Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 299–311 | Cite as

Host range in phytophagous insects: the potential role of generalist predators

  • E. A. Bernays


The potential role of generalist natural enemies is presented as one of the important ecological pressures that select for narrow host range in phytophagous insects, and dominant relative to physiological bases for specialization. Experiments are described in three completely different systems indicating that generalist herbivores are more vulnerable to predation than specialist herbivores. The three predators were (a) the vespid waspMischocyttarus flavitarsus, (b) the Argentine antIridomyrmex humilis and (c) the coccinellid beetleHippodamia convergens. It is concluded the predators may provide strong selection pressure for maintenance and perhaps evolution of narrow host range in insect herbivores.


Host range evolution herbivores predation selection 


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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. A. Bernays
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological Control, Department of Entomology and Department of ZoologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyAlbanyUSA

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