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Evolution of Feeding Preferences in Phytophagous Insects

V. G. Dethier
Evolution
Vol. 8, No. 1 (Mar., 1954), pp. 33-54
DOI: 10.2307/2405664
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2405664
Page Count: 22
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Evolution of Feeding Preferences in Phytophagous Insects
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Abstract

In viewing the evolution of feeding habits within historical time we observe some insects remaining constant for long periods, some shifting gradually to new plants or enlarging their menu, some altering feeding preferences quite suddenly, some polyphagous species forming biological races, others not, introduced insects attacking plants not previously known to be acceptable, and native insects shifting their attack to introduced plants. These kaleidoscopic patterns of behavior merely reflect the diverse ways in which different insect species may respond to changes within the plant. The drama of changing feeding preferences observed currently and in the past thus resolves itself into a dynamic equilibrium between two changing systems, the plant and the insect. The outcome at any particular time depends in large measure on the genetic potentialities and relative rates of change and stability in the two organisms.

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