The role of insect host ranges for the evolution and maintenance of diversity

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 31/12/2010
Funding: 1215000 SEK


I will investigate the functional relationship between traits involved in host plant use in butterflies, and how these relationships affect colonizations of novel host plants, and how this in turn affects abundance, distribution and diversification of plant-feeding insects. The project is divided into three parts, differing in methodology but with a common goal. The first subproject will look at patterns of host shifts and diversification and the processes involved from a phylogenetic perspective. The second subproject will look at behavioral and life-history mechanisms and consequences of host specialization and host expansions. Special emphasis will be on mechanisms that can counterbalance the advantages of specialization. In the third subproject I will look at the functional genomics of host use by looking for differential gene expression during larval feeding on different hosts and, as a next step, during oviposition. I have previously shown that traits involved in oviposition preference and larval performance on hosts have different genetic determination. By investigating the functional relationship and evolutionary interplay between these characters, within and between species, I hope to increase our understanding of how host use changes over time through colonizations, host shifts and specialization, and in extension, to understand other phenomena like ecologically mediated speciation.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58