Associations between insect herbivores and the trees of Terceira island (Azores) native forests

Terça, 30 de Julho de 2019

Associations between insect herbivores and the trees of Terceira island (Azores) native forests


Carla Rego, Mário Boieiro & Paulo A. V. Borges

Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes/Azorean Biodiversity Group,

Universidade dos Açores, Portugal


Plants and insect herbivores are two species rich groups with major ecological roles in most terrestrial ecosystems, including oceanic islands. Interestingly, some insect herbivores lineages are known to have diversified in association with their host plants (cospeciation) in Madeira and in the Canaries, originating several endemic species and exclusive ecological associations (Percy, 2010). Nevertheless, habitat destruction and invasive species are threatening these unique interactions. In Azores, native forests suffered a drastic reduction in area since human colonization and several endemic species went extinct (Rando et al., 2013; Alcover et al., 2015; Rego et al., 2015). In a recent study, Rego and colleagues (2019) found that despite this extensive destruction and the introduction of many alien species, the canopy of native forests still hosts a considerable number of endemic insect herbivores, and seems to act as a barrier for the colonization by alien species. Furthermore, they found that some strong ecological associations remain between some endemic plants (Erica azorica, Ilex perado subsp azorica, Juniperus brevifolia, Laurus azoricus and Vaccinium cylindraceum) and native insect herbivores, like the caterpillar Argyresthia atlanticella (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) and the bug Kleidocerys ericae (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae). Nevertheless, further studies are needed to evaluate the role of plant chemistry in driving these associations and their vulnerability to the predicted climatic changes.

Alcover JA, Pieper H, Pereira F, Rando JC (2015) Five new extinct species of rails (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) from the Macaronesian Islands (North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa 4057(2):151-190.


Percy, DM (2010) Insect-plant interactions on islands: codiversification of legume-feeding psyllids (Psylloidea) and their Fabaceae hosts. In: Serrano ARM, Borges PAV, Boieiro M, Oromı´ P, editors. Terrestrial arthropods of Macaronesia: biodiversity, ecology and evolution. Lisboa: Sociedade Portuguesa de Entomologia, pp. 285–307.


Rando, J, Alcover, J, Olson, S & H Pieper (2013) A new species of extinct scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from São Miguel Island (Azores Archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa, 3647: 343-357.


Rego, C., Boieiro, M., Vieira, V. & Borges, P.A.V. (2015) The biodiversity of terrestrial arthropods in Azores. Proyecto S.E.A. Ibero Diversidad Entomológica. Revista IDE@ - SEA, 5a/5b, 1-24. 


Rego, C., Boieiro, M., Rigal, F., Ribeiro, S.P., Cardoso, P. & Borges, P.A.V. (2019) Taxonomic and functional diversity of insect herbivore assemblages associated with the canopy-dominant trees of the Azorean native forest. PLOS One, 14(7), e0219493.



Did you know?

How many endemic species of arthropods are in Canary islands archipelago?

 There are about 2898 arthropod species and subespecies endemic to Canary islands. See also

How can you help?

Find out how you can help the Global Trees Campaign

Support Us