Response of a leaf beetle to two food plants, only one of which provides a sequestrable defensive chemical
- Cite this article as:
- Dobler, S. & Rowell-Rahier, M. Oecologia (1994) 97: 271. doi:10.1007/BF00323160
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Oreina elongata is a chemically defended leaf beetle. If its food plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, all life stages of the beetle sequester them. However, one of the two known host-plant genera does not contain these alkaloids. In this paper we compare the adult feeding preference and larval performance of two populations, one feeding on Adenostyles alliariae (which contains alkaloids) and one on Cirsium spinosissimum (devoid of alkaloids). Adults of the population living on C. spinosissimum preferred the alkaloid-containing A. alliariae, while adults of the population feeding on A. alliariae showed no preference for either plant. On the other hand, larval growth of both populations is better on C. spinosissimum, without alkaloids. This is especially so in the population that never naturally encounters pyrrolizidine alkaloids; the population living on A. alliariae is apparently better adapted to its host's secondary compounds. The data are discussed in terms of cost of defense and trade-offs between growth and defense.