Carbon to nitrogen excretion ratio in lepidopteran larvae: relative importance of ecological stoichiometry and metabolic scaling


H. Kagata, Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto Univ., 509-3, Hirano 2-chome, Otsu, JP-520-2113 Shiga, Japan. E-mail:


The importance of consumers in regulating ecosystem processes has been increasingly recognized. Although insect herbivores have significant impacts on nutrient cycling through excretion in terrestrial systems, few studies have explored how insect species differ in this ecosystem process. Using 130 lepidopteran species, we tested two hypotheses based on ecological stoichiometry and metabolic scaling, respectively, both of which provide a mechanistic framework for consumer-driven nutrient recycling. Our results highlighted that host plant C:N ratio is the most important determinant of interspecific variation in frass C:N ratio. Insect body mass also partially contributed to the variation in frass C:N ratio. These findings indicate that insect herbivores would play an important role in nutrient recycling with the characteristics of ecological stoichiometry in terrestrial systems.