Ecological Entomology (2006) 31, 395-401

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Scott N. Johnson, A. Nicholas E. Birch, Peter J. Gregory and Philip J. Murray (2006)
The 'mother knows best' principle: should soil insects be included in the preference-performance debate?
Ecological Entomology 31 (4), 395-401
Abstract: 1. Few entomological studies include soil-dwelling insects in mainstream ecological theory, for example the preference-performance debate. The preference-performance hypothesis predicts that when insect herbivores have offspring with limited capacity to relocate in relation to a host plant, there is a strong selection pressure for the adult to oviposit on plants that will maximise offspring performance.
2. This paper discusses the proposition that insect herbivores that live above ground, but have soil-dwelling offspring, should be included in the preference-performance debate. Twelve relevant studies were reviewed to assess the potential for including soil insects in this framework, before presenting a preliminary case study using the clover root weevil (Sitona lepidus) and its host plant, white clover (Trifolium repens).
3. Maternal S. lepidus preferentially oviposited on T. repens plants that had rhizobial root nodules (which enhance offspring performance) rather than T. repens plants without nodules, despite plants having similar foliar nutritional quality. This suggests that adult behaviour above ground was influenced by below-ground host-plant quality.
4. A conceptual model is presented to describe how information about the suitability for offspring below ground could underpin oviposition behaviour of parental insects living above ground, via plant- and soil-mediated semiochemicals. These interactions between genetically related, but spatially separated, insect herbivores raise important evolutionary questions such as how induced plant responses above ground affect offspring living below ground and vice versa.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Scott N. Johnson

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution
environment - cropping system/rotation

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Sitona obsoletus Clover (Trifolium)