Insects as a Model System to Understand the Evolutionary Implications of Innovation

Emilie Snell-Rood, Eli Swanson, Sarah Jaumann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


We apply concepts from the innovation literature to observations of insect resource use and diversification. In doing so, we argue that the process that leads to innovation is key to understanding the evolutionary consequences of innovation. We review examples from insect learning, resource search, and phylogenetic patterns of host use to formulate some generalizations about innovative behavior and diversification. For instance, while search processes are likely to lead to innovations, they are also costly, suggesting there may be evolutionary cycles of generalists colonizing new environments and diversifying into specialists. In addition, patterns of diversification triggered by behavioral innovations may leave a phylogenetic signature in the form of similar resource distribution for a given resource shift. Overall, we suggest that the insect behavior literature is relevant for studies of innovation, and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnimal Creativity and Innovation
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780128007136
ISBN (Print)9780128006481
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Butterflies
  • Host plant
  • Learning
  • Mistakes
  • Novelty
  • Phylogeny
  • Resource use


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