n African Invertebrates - Arboreal herbivory by a semi-terrestrial South African isopod crustacean, Tylos capensis Krauss (Isopoda: Tylidae), on the bietou bush, (L.) Norlindh

Volume 56, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1681-5556
  • E-ISSN: 2305-2562


Most terrestrial isopods are ground-dwelling, scavenging detritivores, and rarely eat live vegetation. Here we report field and laboratory observations of the semi-terrestrial South African isopod, Tylos capensisKrauss, feeding above ground on live green leaves of the bietou bush, (L.) Norlindh. The factors involved in the origin of this unusual arboreal feeding behavior are unknown, but we discuss three possible, not mutually exclusive, hypotheses that require testing: (1) Umhlanga beach, South Africa (our study site), provides insufficient detrital food to support the dense populations of found in this area, thus causing these animals to seek out other food sources, (2) the relatively palatable and abundant leaves provide an easily accessible and digestible food source, and (3) few competing insect herbivores feed on leaves at Umhlanga beach, thus locally freeing up this resource for

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