Caterpillars in the Middle: Tritrophic Interactions in a Changing World


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Caterpillars in the Middle: Tritrophic Interactions in a Changing World Editors: Suzanne Koptur, Robert J. Marquis Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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Pages: 642 Illustrations and other contents: 105 Illustrations, color; 30 Illustrations, black and white; XX, 642 p. 135 illus., 105 illus. in color. Language: English ISBN: 9783030866907 Categories: , , , , , ,

Caterpillars are excellent model organisms for understanding how multiple selective forces shape the ecology and evolution of insects, and organisms in general. Recent research using the tools of modern molecular biology, genetics, metabolomics, microbial ecology, experiments conducted at a global level, network analysis, and statistical analyses of global data sets, combined with basic natural history, are yielding exciting new insights into caterpillar adaptations and ecology. The best way to view these research advances is within a framework of tri-trophic interactions. This is a timely topic for research given the central role of caterpillars and plants in the ecology and trophic structure of terrestrial communities. This book is unique in that it contains chapters from a team of experts on a diversity of key topics within caterpillar-plant interactions. This volume brings together contributions by researchers from around the globe, working in both tropical and temperate habitats, and in human-managed and more natural habitats. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of insect biology, and the role that insects, as represented by caterpillars, play in a world increasingly dominated by humans and one in which threats to insect biodiversity are mounting. Chapter 11 is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via The Natural History of Caterpillar-Ant Associations” is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via

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“This is an excellent work that not only emphasises the general importance of studying tritrophic systems, the world of lepidopteran caterpillars, their parasitoids and predators, but also all sorts of ideas for future research. … the scientific contribution of this publication to the biology, ecology and conservation of Lepidoptera is undeniable and the book should therefore be a part of every entomological library.” (M. Rindoš, European Journal of Entomology (EJE), Vol. 121, 2024) “‘Caterpillars in the Middle’ is an original welcome overview of how larvae of moths and butterflies fit in to the natural world … . The wealth of thought-provoking information in this book is also a salutary reminder of the numerous uncertainities inevitable in planning the future … . The book, likely to become a classic in the literature of Lepidoptera biology, deserves to be read widely and the messages it conveys for the future heeded carefully.” (Tim R. New, Journal of Insect Conservation, Vol. 26 (5), 2022)

Author Biography

Dr Suzanne Koptur is Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences in the Institute of Environment,  International Center for Tropical Botany, Florida International University. Her research focuses on understanding plant/animal interactions with a focus on mutualisms, especially plant antiherbivore defense and pollination. She is also involved in cultivation of native wildflowers for creation of butterfly gardens, ecological schoolyards, and habitat restoration for rare species. Dr Robert J Marquis is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology and the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center, University of Missouri–St. Louis. His research focuses on the interactions between host plant traits and the insects associated with plant, including natural enemies of caterpillars. Both temperate and tropical systems have been the focus of his research. He and his students and collaborators also study the impacts of forest management on caterpillar populations, all against a background of changing climate.