Coevolution of the checkerspot butterfly Euphydryas chalcedona and its larval food plant Diplacus aurantiacus: larval response to protein and leaf resin
Prediapause larvae of the checkerspot butterfly Euphydryas chalcedona were raised from hatch until entrance into diapause on artificial diets. The proportions of protein and host plant leaf resin differed among the diets. Larval size growth rates and mortality were monitored and overall rates and efficiencies of food use were computed.
Larval survivorship, growth rate and size of larvae at idapause were significantly enhanced by increasing dietary protein content, particularly over the range found in leaves of the host plant. In contrast, an increasing dietary content of Diplacus aurantiacus leaf resin significantly depressed larval surviviorship, growth rates and size of larvae at diapause. A simple dosedependent interaction was observed between the effects of dietary leaf resin and protein on larval success. Dietary content of leaf resin and protein significantly influenced some measures of food utilization efficiency (ECI and ECD), but not others (AD and NUE).
The negative interaction between the effects of dietary leaf resin and protein content suggests the leaf resin phenolic compounds reduce the availability of protein to the larvae. The results for efficiency indices of larval food use are potentially in conflict with this interpretation.
The influence of host plant leaf resin and protein on larval success, coupled with the relation between photosynthesis and leaf nitrogen content, are consistent with the hypothesis that productivity can be enhanced by herbivore deterrence resulting from leaf resin production.
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