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Interactions between frugivorous insects and Myrtaceae fruits

Grant number: 13/06051-6
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: June 01, 2013 - November 30, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal researcher:Wesley Rodrigues Silva
Grantee:Wesley Rodrigues Silva
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Some insects belonging to the orders Diptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera and Lepidoptera develop inside fruits, as either pulp eaters or seed predators. The larvae can complete the development in fruits and emerge as adults, or the larvae can leave the fruit and the pupation occurs in the soil. However, abiotic and biotic factors could shape the occurrence and intensity of interaction between insects and plants. Soil type, humidity and temperature can act as environmental filters reducing the pupae survivorship, and selecting the species that can occur in some locals. Both oviposition time and larvae density can be limited by resource availability and frutification patterns, as well as the amount of pulp and seeds per fruit. These latter plant traits can also be affected by local environmental conditions, causing fruit production and pulp/seed investment vary between sites. Therefore, it is expected that different insect species rely on the fruits of one or more species along an environmental gradient. Moreover, vertebrates can eat these same fruits infested by insects, which could lead to selection among the different insect species consuming fruits. Once fruit traits, as color and size, allow inferring the most likely seed dispersers (birds or mammals), insect selection mediated by frugivorous vertebrates could vary according the dispersal syndrome. In this context, the goal of this project is to investigate whether abiotic factors, period of frutification, fruit traits and fruit consumption by vertebrates can shape the interactions between frugivorous insects and plant species of Myrtaceae along an environmental gradient. (AU)

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