Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 64–76

Endophage-ectophage ratios and plant defense

  • H. V. Cornell

DOI: 10.1007/BF02147932

Cite this article as:
Cornell, H.V. Evol Ecol (1989) 3: 64. doi:10.1007/BF02147932


Endophagous folivores, which are concealed inside leaf tissue for much of their life cycle, or which live externally but feed internally, should be more successful on heavily defended plants than ectophagous species. This is because endophages are more facile at feeding selectively and can manipulate tissue development to avoid physical and chemical defenses and to enhance nutrition. As a result, endophage-ectophage ratios should increase on more heavily defended hosts. This pattern will likely be strengthened by negative asymmetrical interactions with ectophages and pathogens, which may displace endophages from lightly defended hosts. The hypothesis predicts that endophages should be particularly abundant in resource-poor habitats which seem to support a preponderance of heavily defended hosts. Although data do not yet exist for a rigorous test, several observed cases where endophage distributions seem biased toward heavily defended hosts are at least consistent with the hypothesis. Plant defense levels may have little influence on the total number of herbivores associated with a host, but I suggest that guild structure can be profoundly altered.


Herbivoreplant defensespecies richnessguildfeeding behavior

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. V. Cornell
    • 1
  1. 1.Program in Ecology, School of Life and Health SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA