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Host selection patterns in Ciidae

Mats Jonsell and Göran Nordlander; Department of Entomology, Swedish

1. Fungivorous insects are generally viewed as polyphagous, largely

because most fungal fruiting bodies constitute an unpredictable resource. To
examine the validity of this hypothesis, and degree of phylogenetic relatedness
between the preferred hosts of the insects, host selection in the insect fauna of
bracket fungi was studied, using data obtained both from the field and the
literature.
2. More than half (53%) of the insect species breeding in them appeared to be
monophagous.
3. Modern phylogenies explained the host selection patterns better than older
classifications, since non-monophagous species of beetles frequently used hosts
that are closely related to each other.
4. The hypothesis that polyphagous species use more heavily decayed fruiting
bodies than monophagous species was verified for insects breeding in Fomes
fomentarius. The results indicate that the chemical composition of the fungi
influences host selection.
5. It is suggested that fruiting bodies of bracket fungi differ from most other
fungi in that their occurrence is more predictable. Therefore, the primary colonising
fungivores generally attack only one host species, or a few hosts that are
closely phylogenetically related. Polyphagous species generally colonise fruiting
bodies after they have reached a certain stage of decay, thus escaping their
chemical defence.

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