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Ellison Abstract- 2006 Atwater et al

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Atwater, D. Z., J. L. Butler, and A. M. Ellison. 2006. Spatial distribution and impacts of moth herbivory on northern pitcher plants. Northeastern Naturalist 13: 43-56.


Larvae of two noctuid moths, Exyra fax and Papaipema appassionata, are obligate herbivores of the northern pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea. We studied the relationship between presence of these larvae and plant size, the spatial clustering of herbivory, and effects of herbivory on subsequent plant size at Harvard Pond in central Massachusetts. Plants fed upon by E. fax were larger than uneaten plants, were clustered in the study area, and decreased in size after a year relative to uneaten plants. The few plants fed upon by P. appassionata were similar in size to the overall population, and were clustered only in 2003. Limited mobility of adult moths and plant size preference may account for clustering of herbivory by E. fax, whereas larval mobility may account for clustering of herbivory by P. appassionata.

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