Behavioural responses of insect herbivores to toxins are examined in managed and natural systems with reference to two important but largely ignored factors: heterogeneity in toxin distributions and the nature of the relationship between behavioural responses and physiological adaptation to the same toxins. Heterogeneous toxin distributions, which provide the opportunity for behavioural responses, are ubiquitous in managed and natural systems. Insect herbivores have evolved a wide variety of behavioural responses to such toxins. The nature of behavioural responses reflects toxin apparency, mode of action, and the extent to which sublethal effects influence behaviour. The interaction between these behavioural responses to heterogeneously distributed toxins and physiological mechanisms of tolerance has influenced the evolution of insecticide resistance in managed systems and the evolution of plant defensive strategies in natural systems. An understanding of this interaction could lead to more evolutionarily stable methods of crop protection.
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