Cynipid gall-wasp communities correlate with oak chemistry

Warren G. Abrahamson, Mark D. Hunter, George Melika, Peter W. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)


Host-plant association data, gathered from field surveys conducted throughout Florida and from the literature, were used to identify the specificity of cynipid gall inducers to one or more of six Quercus species that occur at Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida, USA, including the red oaks Q. laevis, Q. myrtifolia, and Q. inopina, and the white oaks Q. chapmanii, Q. geminata, and Q. minima. Quercus myrtifolia had the highest cynipid richness and diversity (37 cynipid species, Shannon H′ = 3.61, Simpson's D = 0.97), followed by Q. chapmanii, Q. laevis, Q. inopina, Q. geminata, and finally Q. minima (10 species, H′ = 2.30, D = 0.90). All cynipid species showed strong fidelity to a particular host plant or a restricted set of host plants. An ordination of gall-wasp host associations indicated that the cynipid communities of each oak species were distinct and specific to a given oak species. Leaf samples taken from each oak species were analyzed for condensed and hydrolyzable tannins, total phenolics, lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, nitrogen, and carbon. All of these chemical traits, with the exception of carbon, differed by oak species, and the differences were strongly correlated with the axes of the cynipid-species ordination. These results suggest that gall-wasp occurrence is influenced by oak chemistry and imply that experimental studies of cynipid gall inducers that examine host-plant chemistry and female oviposition choice and larval performance will yield useful insights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Cynipidae
  • Fagaceae
  • Gall
  • Herbivore communities
  • Host-plant association
  • Insect-plant interactions
  • Ordination
  • Plant chemistry
  • Quercus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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