Frugivorous weevils are too rare to cause Janzen-Connell effects in New Guinea lowland rain forest

Richard Ctvrtecka, Katerina Sam, Erik Brus, George D. Weiblen, Vojtech Novotny

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A community of frugivorous weevils was studied by quantitative rearing of 57 weevil species represented by 10485 individuals from 326 woody plant species in lowland rain forest in Papua New Guinea. Only fruits from 35% of plant species were attacked by weevils. On average, weevils were reared from only 1 in 33 fruits and 1 kg of fruit was attacked by 2.51 individuals. Weevil host specificity was relatively high: 42% of weevil species fed on a single plant genus, 19% on a single plant family and only 16% were reared from more than one family. However, monophagous specialists represented only 23% of all reared individuals. The average 1 kg of fruits was infested by 1.84 individuals of generalist weevils (feeding on allogeneric or allofamilial host species), 0.52 individual of specialists (feeding on a single or several congeneric species), and 0.15 individual of unknown host specificity. Large-seeded fruits with thin mesocarp tended to host specialist species whereas those with thick, fleshy mesocarp were often infested with both specialists and generalists. Weevils tended to avoid small-seeded, fleshy fruits. The low incidence of seed damage (3% of seeds) suggests that weevils are unlikely to play a major role in regulating plant populations via density-dependent mortality processes outlined by the Janzen-Connell hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-535
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 20 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.


  • Curculionoidea
  • Janzen-Connell hypothesis
  • fruit morphology
  • seed-eating herbivores
  • tropical rain forest


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