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Oviposition site selection by a lepidopteran leafminer in response to heterogeneity of leaf surface conditions: structural traits and microclimates

Ecological entomology 2017 v.42 no.3 pp. 294-305
Ligustrum japonicum, Phyllocnistis, adaptive radiation, cell walls, hardness, larvae, leaf development, leafminers, leaves, microclimate, mining, multivoltine habit, oviposition, oviposition sites, shoots, spring, temperature, trees
1. Leafminer larvae are sedentary and make feeding tracks called mines. Their spatial distribution in trees affects their growth and survival through interaction with the heterogeneity of environments, such as leaf traits and microclimate. Lepidopteran leafminers that mine lower leaf surfaces have shown evolutionary radiation, suggesting that lower surfaces improve leafminer performance. 2. The lepidopteran multivoltine leafminer Phyllocnistis sp. Zeller (Gracirallidae: Phyllocnistinae) uses the Japanese privet Ligustrum japonicum Thunb. (Oleaceae). It mines only the lower‐surface epidermal layer of primary shoot leaves early in the occurrence season, but once lammas shoots appear, which happens in seasons other than spring, it preferentially uses the lower surface, but also uses the upper surface of the leaves. This study examined whether selection of oviposition sites was associated with the structural traits and microclimate of the leaf surface. 3. The shift of oviposition site from primary to lammas shoot leaves followed increasing hardness and epidermal cell wall thickness of primary shoot leaves during leaf development, and mine initiation rates decreased below 20% after oviposition on mature primary shoot leaves. Preference for the lower surface was related to the thinner cuticle. However, the thinner cuticle of the upper surface on lammas shoot leaves allowed Phyllocnistis sp. to expand its mining sites to both surfaces with no decrease in mine initiation and emergence rates. 4. Microclimates (leaf surface and mine temperatures) did not differ between upper and lower surfaces, suggesting that microclimate did not affect oviposition site selection by Phyllocnistis sp. These results suggest that the adaptive radiation of lower‐surface mining may have been influenced by the leaf surface characteristics.