Insect herbivory on C3 and C4 grasses
- Cite this article as:
- Boutton, T.W., Cameron, G.N. & Smith, B.N. Oecologia (1978) 36: 21. doi:10.1007/BF00344568
This study tested the hypothesis that grasses with the C4 photosynthetic pathway are avoided as a food source by insect herbivores in natural communities. Insects were sampled from ten pairs of C3−C4 grasses and their distributions analyzed by paired comparisons tests. Results showed no statistically significant differences in herbivore utilization of C3−C4 species. However, there was a trend towards heavier utilization of C3 species when means for both plant groups were compared. In particular, Homoptera and Diptera showed heavier usage of C3 plants. Significant correlations between insect abundances and plant protein levels suggest that herbivores respond to the higher protein content of C3 grasses. δ13C values for six of the most common grasshopper species in the study area indicated that three species fed on C3 plants, two species fed on C4 plants, and one species consumed a mixture of C3 and C4 tissue.