Condition-dependent tolerance of monoterpenes in an insect herbivore
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- Reid, M.L. & Purcell, J.R.C. Arthropod-Plant Interactions (2011) 5: 331. doi:10.1007/s11829-011-9137-4
The ability of a herbivore to tolerate plant defensive chemicals may vary with the herbivore’s energetic state. We investigated the effect of body condition on the survivorship of individual mountain pine beetles, Dendroctonus ponderosae, exposed to host monoterpenes at concentrations comparable to constitutive and induced levels of defence using fumigant exposure. Body condition index was calculated as the residual mass after fitting the relationship between fresh weight and body size. Differences in survivorship among the four monoterpenes tested (α-pinene, myrcene, terpinolene and limonene) were small. Beetles with a higher body condition index survived high monoterpene concentrations better than those in poorer condition. There was no direct effect of sex, but positive effects of body size and fat content on survivorship favoured females, the sex that pioneers attacks on live trees. Higher body condition index corresponded to both higher fat content and fat-free body mass; the same conclusions about monoterpene identity and size-dependent or energy-dependent tolerance of high monoterpene concentrations held if fat or fat-free body mass were used in place of body condition index. This study highlights the need to consider insect body condition in understanding insect–plant interactions.