Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 711–722 | Cite as

Insects on urban plants: contrasting the flower head feeding assemblages on native and exotic hosts

  • Paula Perre
  • Rafael D. Loyola
  • Thomas M. Lewinsohn
  • Mário Almeida-NetoEmail author


Exotic plant species very often comprise a large proportion of urban floras. Because herbivorous insects depend on the presence of suitable host plants to maintain their populations, it is imperative to elucidate the relative importance of native and exotic hosts to understand the response of herbivorous guilds to urbanization. By using a plant-herbivore system composed of Asteraceae hosts and flower-head endophagous insects, we investigated whether the diversity and composition of herbivorous insects differs between native and exotic host-plant species in an urban environment. Although we found only seven exotic Asteraceae among the 30 species recorded, the overall abundance of exotics was considerably greater than that of native host plants. Overall, the exotic host species supported a small subset of the herbivore assemblage found on the native ones. The number of herbivore species per host species was significantly higher among the native plants, but we did not find a difference in herbivore abundance. Moreover, the higher taxonomic composition of herbivores on exotic Asteraceae was reduced, being composed of only three genera and two families from a total of 16 genera and six families of herbivores. These results provide support for the idea that plants outside of their original geographic distribution have lower loads of enemies than phylogenetically related native species. Our findings indicate that native host plants in urban areas play a critical role in supporting the native herbivorous insect fauna.


Alien plants Cities Exotic species Invasive species Insect-plant interactions Phytophagous insects 



We are grateful to Rosane Picon, Marina Braun and Ricardo Fabiano for helping us with field work. This study was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) grants # 04/15482-1 to TML, # 03/02541-0 and # 06/56889-2 to MAN, and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) grant # 306049/2004 to TML. RDL’s research is supported by CNPq.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Perre
    • 1
  • Rafael D. Loyola
    • 2
  • Thomas M. Lewinsohn
    • 3
  • Mário Almeida-Neto
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Depto. Entomologia e Acarologia, ESALQUniversidade de São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Depto. Ecologia, ICBUniversidade Federal de Goiás (UFG)GoiâniaBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Interações Insetos-Plantas, Depto. Biologia Animal, Instituto de Biologia, UNICAMPCampinasBrazil

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