Habitat use, diet and body size of Heard Island weevils
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Habitat use, diet and body-size variation are examined in weevils from Heard Island, with specific attention being given to the Ectemnorhinus viridis species complex. E. viridis shows marked altitudinal variation in body size and vestiture, but there are no consistent associations between body size and diet, nor are there consistent among-individual differences in conventional taxonomic characters. Thus, the status of E. viridis as a single, variable species is maintained. This species occurs from sea level to 600 m and it feeds on vascular plants and bryophytes. Canonopsis sericeus also feeds on bryophytes and vascular plants and occurs over a narrower altitudinal range. Palirhoeus eatoni is restricted to the surpralittoral zone where it feeds on marine algae and lichens. Bothrometopus brevis and B. gracilipes both feed on cryptogams, with the former species occurring from sea level to 450 m, and the latter from 50 to 550 m above sea level. In all species, males are smaller than females and there is a size cline such that populations from higher elevations are smaller than those at lower altitudes. This cline is the reverse of that found on the Prince Edward Islands which, unlike Heard Island, lie to the north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone. This difference in body-size clines between weevils on the two island groups is ascribed to the shorter growing season on the colder Heard Island. The information presented here supports previous ideas regarding the evolution of the Ectemnorhinus-group of weevils on the South Indian Ocean Province Islands, although it suggests that subsequent tests of these hypotheses would profit from the inclusion of molecular systematic work.
KeywordsFrontal Zone Altitudinal Range Taxonomic Character Polar Frontal South Indian Ocean
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