Variation in food stoichiometry affects individual performance and population dynamics, but it is also likely that species with different life histories should differ in their sensitivity to food stoichiometry. To address this question, we investigated the ability of the three nettle-feeding butterflies (Aglais urticae, Polygonia c-album, and Aglais io) to respond adaptively to induced variation in plant stoichiometry in terms of larval performance. We hypothesized that variation in larval performance between plant fertilization treatments should be functionally linked to species differences in host plant specificity. We found species-specific differences in larval performance between plant fertilization treatments that could not be explained by nutrient limitation. We showed a clear evidence of a positive correlation between food stoichiometry and development time to pupal stage and pupal mass in A. urticae. The other two species showed a more complex response. Our results partly supported our prediction that host plant specificity affects larval sensitivity to food stoichiometry. However, we suggest that most of the differences observed may instead be explained by differences in voltinism (number of generations per year). We believe that the potential of some species to respond adaptively to variation in plant nutrient content needs further attention in the face of increased eutrophication due to nutrient leakage from human activities.
Audusseau, H., Kolb, G., & Janz, N. (2015). Plant fertilization interacts with life history: Variation in stoichiometry and performance in nettle-feeding butterflies. PLoS ONE, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124616