Scriber, J. M. 2002. The evolution of insect-plant relationships: Chemical constraints, coadaptation and concordance of insect/plant traits. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 104:217-235.
Co-adaptations, co-evolution, and co-speciation between herbivores and their host plants have been topics of interest for several decades. Difficulties in deciphering these relationships as well as physiological, biochemical, and ecological adaptations of herbivorous insects themselves are discussed here in relation to biotic and abiotic environmental factors that create temporal as well as spatial mosaics of genetic variation. Hybridization was shown in swallowtail butterflies (Papilio) (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) to produce some trait concordance, but mostly independent geographic trait clines (physiological, biochemical, and morphological). Strong and extensive genetic introgression of Liriodendron tulipifera detoxification abilities was documented northward across the hybrid zone, presumably as a result of regional climate warming only during the last 3-4 years. These and other genetic novelties produced by hybridization may be important in speciation processes, and they also emphasize the difficulties identifying appropriate taxonomic classifications for discussing any species concept. Host plant detoxification abilities (as ‘key innovations’) are shown capable of rapid movement between different polyphagous herbivore species independently of the host plant availability and well beyond the insect species geographical range distribution. Part of the difficulty associated with ecologically categorizing herbivore species and identifying affiliated adaptations for host plant use may be related to independent movement of various ‘species-diagnostic’ traits. Climate-driven local selection regimes could help generate the dynamic variation observed for co-adapted, co-evolved, or non-adapted genotypes, and may produce the confusing and changing patterns of geographic mosaics seen within and among closely related herbivores. Experimental analyses of several factors that could explain the asymmetrical shapes of trait clines across the hybrid zone for tiger swallowtail butterflies are discussed.Sign in to download PDF back to index