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Food-plant families of British insects and mites: the influence of life form and plant family
- WARD, LENA K., HACKSHAW, A., CLARKE, R.T.
- Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1995 v.55 no.2 pp. 109-127
- Cornaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fagales, Liliopsida, annuals, aquatic plants, evolution, food plants, herbs, insects, mites, shrubs, trees, weeds, woody plants
- The dissimilarities between 107 British plant families with respect to the insect and mite species which feed on them were analysed using a principal co-ordinates analysis. The relationships between the plant families were strongly influenced by the plant life forms. Major groups were woody plants (trees and shrubs), aquatic plants and herbs. A wet to dry gradient was distinguished, as were evergreen plants, and early successional plant families with weeds and annuals. Taxonomically, plant families of the same order were closer together if they were predominantly of the same life form. Fagales and several orders of monocotyledons formed particularly clear groups. The three ‘nearest neighbours' of each plant family based on the dissimilarities measures were listed. These provide some interesting, but conjectural, data on evolutionary aspects of plant families. This was illustrated briefly by the Cornaceae and Euphorbiaceae. The underlying progressive evolution of plants from woody species and wetter areas to herbs and annual plants of dry and cold places may be reflected by insect and mite food plant family associations.