Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cornell University

First Advisor

Paul Feeny, Ph.D.


Herbivorous insects are rarely able to eat all kinds of available plant material. The majority of phytophagous insects are oligophagous, feeding on a variety of host plants that are botanically and/or chemically related (Strong, et al. 1984; Jermy, et al. 1990; Bemays and Chapman 1994). This provides these insects the flexibility to exploit a variety of plant species; however, even closely-related plants can differ in such phenotypic characters as growth form, leaf shape, and chemistry. How then can we account for the fidelity of oligophagous insects for a particular set of plants growing in complex vegetation? Clearly, host-finding responses to at least some plant traits must have a heritable component, and may be subject to experience-induced modification. Remarkably, little is known of the relative roles of "nature" and "nurture" in host-finding by herbivorous insects.



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