Types Of Plants And Insect Herbivores Influence Community Structure And Function

1877 Words Nov 17th, 2016 8 Pages
Nutrient availability, plants, and insect herbivores influence community structure and function both aboveground and belowground, but it is unclear whether these factors are independent or interdependent (Wright et al. 2014). Ehrlich and Raven (1964) used butterflies as a model organism to examine coevolution between closely interacting organisms, specifically between plants and insect herbivores. Ehrlich and Raven (1964) noted that structural and mechanical characteristics of plants have the potential to modify these relationships. Additionally, many plants produce secondary metabolic compounds, which may act as repellents to insects and correlate with the presence of nutrients. The chemical composition of plants may change with age, exposure to sunlight, or other environmental factors, and changes in chemical composition may influence the attraction or repulsion of insects to plants (Ehrlich and Raven 1964). According to the study, secondary plant substances played an integral role in determining patterns of plant utilization by various species of butterflies, as well for other phytophagous and parasitic insect groups. Through mutations and recombination, plants were able to produce chemical compounds not directly related to their metabolic pathways. Ehrlich and Raven (1964) noted that some of these compounds appeared to reduce the palatability of the plant. The abundance of phytophagous insects in the tropics may accentuate the rate at which these interactions between…

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