Neotropical Entomology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 62–68 | Cite as

Lioptilodes friasi (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae) Niche Breadth in the Chilean Mediterranean Matorral Biome: Trophic and Altitudinal Dimensions

  • Héctor A. VargasEmail author
  • Sergio Rasmann
  • Pamela Ramirez-Verdugo
  • Cristian A. Villagra
Ecology, Behavior and Bionomics


Understanding the factors driving the diet breadth of phytophagous insects remains one of the main questions in ecological research. In this study we explored the diet breadth and plant-insect associations in the plume moth Lioptilodes friasi Vargas & Parra (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae). This phytophagous insect was originally described in association with a single host species, Haplopappus foliosus (Asteraceae), a native shrub of the Chilean Mediterranean matorral. In order to address the breadth of host plant choice, we surveyed other Haplopappus species growing along the elevation gradient of central Chile from sea level to 2600 m. We were able to obtain L. friasi adults from five additional Haplopappus species: Haplopappus chrysantemifolius and Haplopappus decurrens from the coastal zone, Haplopappus multifolius and Haplopappus schumanii from the mid-elevation zone, and Haplopappus scrobiculatus at high elevation. Our results demonstrate that the genus-specialized endophagous herbivore L. friasi has a wider distribution and climatic tolerance than previously described. Its biogeographical range extends from the lowland coastal habitats up to the Andean subnival level. We propose that shared flower phenotypic traits such as morphology and chemical composition may have allowed the colonization of closely related Haplopappus species in central Chile, the expansion of which is limited by the harsh high elevation conditions.


Trophic niche developmental plasticity ecophysiology 



We thank Professor Rodrigo Villaseñor and Dr. Rosita Scherson for plant identification. We are also grateful to Marcela Cordero, Pedro Mendez, Camila Gonzalez, Alvaro Astudillo, Alvaro Villa, Constanza Schapheer, and Angelos Katsanis for help during field and laboratory work, two anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions on a preliminary version, and Lafayette Eaton for checking the English. This research was funded by FONDECYT Iniciación No. 11100109, CONICYT, Inserción No. 79100013 to CAV, and a CNIC-NSF No. 1404687 grant to SR.


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Héctor A. Vargas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergio Rasmann
    • 2
  • Pamela Ramirez-Verdugo
    • 3
  • Cristian A. Villagra
    • 4
  1. 1.Depto de Recursos Ambientales, Facultad de Ciencias AgronómicasUniv de TarapacáAricaChile
  2. 2.Institute of BiologyUniv of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  3. 3.Herbario VALPL-Lab de BotánicaUniv de Playa AnchaValparaisoChile
  4. 4.Instituto de Entomología, Facultad de Ciencias BásicasUniv Metropolitana de Ciencias de la EducaciónSantiagoChile

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