Insect diversity in the Cape Floristic Region

Giliomee J.H. (2003)


The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is characterized by exceptionally high plant species richness and it is yet to be determined whether this is matched by an equally high diversity of insect fauna associated with these plants. In an attempt to do this, data from the literature on the number of insects for various taxa found at different sites in the CFR were compared with equivalent data from other areas in South Africa and elsewhere. Results indicate that the herbivorous insect fauna of the CFR is not particularly rich in species, perhaps except for the small guild of endophagous insects. It is speculated that this is the result of CFR vegetation being a poor food source for herbivores, particularly in view of its sclerophyllous nature. Plant defence mechanisms, such as a pronounced cyanogenic ability of the leaves coupled with the relatively simple architecture of the plants are possible contributing factors.

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