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Abstract Detail


Vergara, Melissa [1], Skogen, Krissa [2], Jogesh, Tania [3], Kay, Kathleen [1].

Do herbivores prefer flower buds over leaves? Evaluating caterpillar preferences in evening primroses (Onagraceae).

Many herbivores show preferences for specific plant tissues based on nutritional value and defense. Optimal defense theory predicts that floral tissues have a higher fitness value and should therefore be allocated with higher defenses than leaf tissues. Using the evening primrose family (Onagraceae) as a model system, we compare the preference and digestibility of leaves and flowers for the development of the caterpillars of Hyles lineata, the white-lined sphinx moth. H. lineata uses many species of evening primroses as both a nectar resource (adults) and a larval resource, and therefore is an important pollinator and herbivore in many systems. We measured preference, feeding efficiency and survivorship of H. lineata caterpillars for a leaf or flower diet, and tracked oviposition rates by adult females on the different plant parts for 14 different species. We also compared flower vs leaf feeding in Mirabilis jalapa (Nyctaginaceae) which is a known suitable host for caterpillars. Preliminary data suggests that larval survivorship is lower on flowers of M. jalapa indicating that these might be better defended, as predicted by the optimal defense theory. However, field observations suggest that H. lineata caterpillars preferentially feed on floral tissues in Oenothera sp. The preference for, and consumption of, flowers and leaves by herbivores can have different ecological and evolutionary consequences for plants, especially when the main pollinator is also an important herbivore.

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1 - University of California, Santa Cruz, Ecology and Evolution , 1156 High St., Santa Cruz , CA, 95064, USA
2 - Chicago Botanic Garden, Conservation Scientist, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL, 60022, USA
3 - Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022, United States

Hyles lineata 
Oviposition .

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Ecology
Location: Exhibit Hall/Omni Hotel
Date: Monday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM This poster will be presented at 6:15 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PEC020
Abstract ID:506
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Undergraduate Presentation Award

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