Foliage of oaks grown under elevated CO2 reduces performance of Antheraea polyphemus (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)

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To understand how the increase in atmospheric CO from human activity may affect leaf damage by forest insects, we examined host plant preference and larval performance of a generalist herbivore, Antheraea polyphemus Cram., that consumed foliage developed under ambient or elevated CO . Larvae were fed leaves from Quercus alba L. and Quercus velutina Lam. grown under ambient or plus 200 μl/liter CO using free air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE). Lower digestibility of foliage, greater protein precipitation capacity in frass, and lower nitrogen concentration of larvae indicate that growth under elevated CO reduced the food quality of oak leaves for caterpillars. Consuming leaves of either oak species grown under elevated CO slowed the rate of development of A. polyphemus larvae. When given a choice, A. polyphemus larvae preferred Q. velutina leaves grown under ambient CO ; feeding on foliage of this species grown under elevated CO led to reduced consumption, slower growth, and greater mortality. Larvae compensated for the lower digestibility of Q. alba leaves grown under elevated CO by increasing the efficiency of conversion of ingested food into larval mass. Despite equivalent consumption rates, larvae grew larger when they consumed Q. alba leaves grown under elevated compared with ambient CO . Reduced consumption, slower growth rates, and increased mortality of insect larvae may explain lower total leaf damage observed previously in plots in this forest exposed to elevated CO . By subtly altering aspects of leaf chemistry, the ever-increasing concentration of CO in the atmosphere will change the trophic dynamics in forest ecosystems. © 2007 Entomological Society of America. 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

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Environmental Entomology

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