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How do legume-insect interactions change along an altitudinal gradient?
Poster Title: How do legume-insect interactions change along an altitudinal gradient?
Submitted on 11 Jan 2018
Author(s): Desi Quintans1, Paul Rymer1, James Cook1, Tony Auld2
Affiliations: 1: Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (NSW Australia), 2: Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW Australia)
This poster was presented at EcoTAS 2017
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Poster Information
Abstract: Legume pods are invaded by seed-eating beetles, and by wasps that eat the seeds or hunt the beetle larvae inside. The Australian legume-beetle-wasp food web features several layers of host specificity, but I believe that climate change is creating spatial and temporal mismatches between the insects and their host plants. This will ultimately lead to these relationships becoming less specific and more generalised.

I am using the climatic variation of a mountain as a natural laboratory. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, I collected pods (n = 78,221) from 43 legume species in 28 sites in the Blue Mountains National Park. I collected the insects that hatched out of the pods over 6 months, and sorted them into families based on morphology and DNA barcoding.

The emergence patterns of the most common larva (belonging to Melanterius spp. weevils) showed that instead of being specific to Acacia plants as the literature reports, these weevils are attacking a wide variety of host plants. The broadness and success of these unusual attacks is highest at sites that are lower (i.e. warmer) in the mountain gradient.
Summary: The attack patterns of seed-eating weevils warn us that host-specificity is weakening under climate change.Report abuse »
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