Local Adaptation in Specialist Herbivores: Theory and Evidence

  • William J. Boecklen
  • Susan Mopper


Evolutionary ecologists are interested in microgeographic genetic structure in herbivore populations and its importance to herbivore population dynamics (Slatkin 1987, Mopper 1996a, Gandon et al., Chapter 13, this volume, McCauley and Goff, Chapter 9, this volume, Peterson and Denno, Chapter 12, this volume). Two major patterns have emerged from the pioneering work by Bush (1969) and Edmunds and Alstad (1978): Polyphagous herbivores exhibit distinct “races” adapted to sympatrically distributed host species (Bush 1969; Pashley 1988; Aki-moto 1990; Feder et al. 1990, Chapter 16, this volume; Via 1991; Carroll and Boyd 1992), and specialist herbivores display genetic differentiation—demes—at the spatial scale of individual conspecific host plants (McCauley et al. 1988; McPheron et al. 1988; Alstad and Corbin 1990; Komatsu and Akimoto 1995). The fine-scale partitioning of herbivore populations into demes has been implicated as an important factor promoting discontinuous distributions of herbivores within natural populations of host plants (Edmunds and Alstad 1978; Wainhouse and Howell 1983; Hanks and Denno 1994; Mopper 1996a), and has been cited as an important variable in understanding herbivore outbreaks (Wainhouse and Howell 1983).


Host Plant Local Adaptation Transfer Experiment Scale Insect Specialist Herbivore 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Boecklen
    • 1
  • Susan Mopper
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Southwestern LouisianaLafayetteUSA

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