Attributes of host-specificity better explain the diversified wood-boring longhorn beetles in tropical SW China than plant species diversity
| A long-debated question in ecology is whether the hyper-diversity of tropical plant-feeding insects is a direct consequence of high tropical plant diversity or should be attributed to increases in host plant specialization. In this study, we used Cerambycidae (the wood-boring longhorn beetles whose larval stages feed on the xylems of trees and lianas) and plants as study materials to explore which hypothesis is more favoured. Multiple analyses were used to show the differences in host specificity of Cerambycidae in tropical and subtropical forests. From these analyses, we found that the alpha diversity of beetles in tropical forests was significantly higher than that in subtropical forests but not in plants. The relationship between plants and beetles was also closer in tropical areas than in subtropical areas. Our results imply that the wood-boring longhorn beetles show higher degrees of niche conservatism and host-specificity in tropical forests than in subtropical forests. The high diversity of wood-boring longhorn beetles in tropical forests might be explained to a large extent by their more finely partitioned diet breadth.
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| Ling, TC
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