, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 580–584 | Cite as

A comparison of the responses of two tropical specialist herbivores to host plant patch size

  • Catherine E. Bach
Original Papers


The effects of host plant patch size on the abundances of two specialist herbivores (the chrysomelid beetle, Acalymma innubum and the pentatomid bug, Piezosternum subulatum) were investigated in a natural forest community in the Virgin Islands. Abundances were compared early and late in the season in different sized patches of the cucurbit host plant (Cayaponia americana) growing in open habitat (with no surrounding plant community) and forest habitat (with diverse surrounding plant community). For both herbivore species, adult abundances per patch were positively correlated with patch leaf area, but there was a significant patch size effect (i.e., correlation between herbivore density per unit plant and patch leaf area) only for beetles in the forest habitat. Both herbivore species were significantly affected by surrounding plant diversity, but in opposite ways: beetles were more abundant in open patches whereas bugs were more abundant in forest patches. Relationships between abundance and patch size in open and forest patches changed through the season for both herbivore species. These changing abundance patterns are discussed with respect to (1) increases in the diversity of the plant community surrounding host plant patches, and (2) differences in herbivore movement patterns.


Patch Size Forest Patch Forest Habitat Herbivore Species Specialist Herbivore 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine E. Bach
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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