Insect herbivore abundances on host plants are influenced by both plant traits and the physical environment in which that plant grows. This study examined the role of the physical light environment and foliage characteristics in determining abundance of the lacebug Corythuca arcuata Say (Hemiptera: Tingidae) on Quercus alba L. I censused adult C. arcuata across a growing season, quantified leaf characteristics, and measured canopy cover over understory branches of mature Q. alba. Using an information-theoretic approach, a priori hypotheses of the relationship between light, plant traits, and C. arcuata abundance was evaluated. Abundance was best predicted by light environment and carbon content. Adult C. arcuata prefer trees growing under an open canopy and trees with low carbon content; abundance also positively correlated with leaf water content. Although carbon and water did not vary with light in this study, low carbon and high water content are often associated with shadier conditions, suggesting that C. arcuata faces a trade-off between preferences for physical habitat conditions and host plant characteristics.
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