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J Insect Physiol. 2001 Jan 1;47(1):63-71.

Food choice causes interrupted feeding in the generalist grasshopper Schistocerca americana: further evidence for inefficient decision-making.

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Department of Entomology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, AZ 85721, Tucson, USA


Individual grasshoppers were observed foraging on either single food plant species or binary mixtures of them. Individuals ate slightly less on the mixtures, but grew faster on them. In the mixtures, individuals fed regularly from both plant species, typically eating both within a single meal. Feeding bouts were longer on the preferred plant species in the mixture. The pattern of foraging behavior was markedly different in mixtures and single food treatments. In mixtures, although the total length of time engaged in ingestion over the day was slightly less than in single food treatments, there were relatively more short feeding bouts and more gaps between feeding bouts within meals, so that the time spent in activities associated with the food was markedly longer on mixtures. This is discussed in terms of efficiency and the problem of choice that faces individual generalists. The efficiency factor and its impact on vigilance is added to the other costs of being a polyphagous herbivore.


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