Food Habits and Food Selection of Chrysomelidae. Bionomic and Evolutionary Perspectives

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Abstract

So much has been written about the food-selection of Chrysomelidae and finally very little is actually known. Mostly in the Tropics, the observations are rather scanty and some areas like Madagascar remain totally unexplored. The richness of the Chrysomelid fauna is more or less linked with the abundance of the Flora. According to a recent estimate by Ehrenfeld (1986) of a quarter million spccics of plants, 90000 are in the New World Tropics, 30000 in tropical Africa, 10 000 in Madagascar and 35 000 in tropical Asia and Australia. The rest is spread in temperate and cold areas as well as in the Pacific. Some taxa are even undescribed. Madagascar with that enormous amount of plants for its relatively small size could provide a lot of information on the food-plants of primitive insects, such as the Sagrinae. If made known, this information could throw light on the evolution of the group. Unfortunately, we also do not know much about Australian host-plants of Chrysomelidae. Only in Asia, in South America and to a lesser extent in continental Africa, have the relationships Insects/Plants been rather well explored. If the New World Tropics have more species of plants than the rest of the Tropics put together, they also have more insects. The destruction of the Amazonian forest is unfortunately going on at such a speed that many plants and insects which feed on them will soon disappear since a species can become extinct whether it has been described or not.