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Acta Botanica Brasilica

Print version ISSN 0102-3306


MAGALHAES, Noa; FERREIRA, Lucas Bevilaqua; LEITAO, Gilda  and  MANTOVANI, André. Effects of leaf herbivory on the bromeliad Aechmea blanchetiana: a study of selective feeding by the scraper Acentroptera pulchella. Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2012, vol.26, n.4, pp.944-952. ISSN 0102-3306.

The scraper Acentroptera pulchella (Chrysomelidae, Hispinae) feeds on the leaves of Aechmea blanchetiana (Bromeliaceae), but not indiscriminately. This insect apparently concentrates its attack on the apical region of the intermediate leaves from the bromeliad tank. To characterise the potential influence of leaf defensive strategies on the intraspecific feeding pattern of A. pulchella on the leaves of the bromeliad A. blanchetiana, we quantified the apparent intraspecific preference of this feeding pattern; compared distinct leaves and portions in relation to morpho-physiological, mechanical, nutritional and chemical anti-herbivore strategies; and investigated whether some or all these defensive strategies help explain the observed feeding pattern. A. pulchella preferentially attacked the mid-upper portions of mature and adult leaves of A. blanchetiana, but not the mid-lower portions of the same leaves, which are more resistant to punch, are thicker and present less nitrogen content than the upper portions. However, soft young leaves were not attacked. Attacked portions also presented higher total phenol content than did non-attacked portions, indicating that phenols do not act defensively. Other morpho-physiological and chemical anti-herbivore strategies evaluated did not differ between portions and leaves. This herbivore feeds preferentially on leaf portions that have higher nitrogen levels, avoiding others that present increased punch resistance. The scraper A. pulchella exhibits a clearly selective feeding pattern that is driven by nutritional benefits rather than strictly mechanical or chemical anti-herbivore strategies.

Keywords : Bromeliaceae; leaf herbivory; scraper.

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