Specialization: Species Property or Local Phenomenon?

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Science  27 Feb 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4485, pp. 887-893
DOI: 10.1126/science.211.4485.887


Many herbivorous insects have generalized diets over the species' entire geographical ranges but they function as specialists with restricted diets in local communities. Local feeding specialization can be produced by biochemical, behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary processes. Much evidence is incompatible with the widely held assumptions that diet breadth is a species characteristic and that specialization among herbivorous insects implies greater efficiency and less niche overlap.