School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

First report of Avicennia germinans (Acanthaceae) as a larval host of Junonia litoralis (Nymphalidae) causing higher foliar damage in seedlings than trees

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Herbivory is considered an important biotic interaction in mangroves. Nevertheless, detailed information on specific plant–herbivore interactions that might have considerable influence in ecological and evolutionary processes is still very poor and fragmented. Herbivory damage was quantified during December 2015 in seedlings and trees in monospecific stands of Avicennia germinans in Laguna Madre of Tamaulipas, Mexico. The use of this mangrove species as a larval host is well documented; however, this is the first report for Junonia litoralis. These lepidopteran larvae consumed, on average, 10.2% of the leaf area; but herbivory was higher on seedlings (mean 15%) than on trees (mean 2.3%). These values are comparable to estimations of 10% mean herbivory damage in other field studies. This indicates that herbivores cause greater damage in seedlings than in trees. Herbivore activity by J. litoralis only occurred in A. germinans and did not affect associated herbs or shrubs of other species. The close interaction between J. litoralis and A. germinans may have profound implications for ecological and evolutionary processes of mangroves and enables a better understanding of ecosystem function and its conservation. Further studies are needed to investigate such interactions and their implications including long-term monitoring of interstitial salinity and leaf chemistry at different stages of growth and maturity of the host species.


© 2022 The Society for the Study of Species Biology

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Plant Species Biology