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Colorado Mesa University biology professor Tom Walla accomplishment


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Faculty and staff accomplishments

The very picky caterpillar

Colorado Mesa University biology professor Tom Walla and an international team recently published a significant paper on the global patterns of herbivory in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which publishes cutting-edge research, science news and actions of the national Academy of Sciences.

After decades of fieldwork from dozens of sites around the world and two years of combing through and analyzing data, the team reported that most insect herbivores, such as caterpillars, find and feast on just one kind of plant in any one location rather than taking the buffet approach and eating everything in sight.

Previous studies have disagreed about whether insect herbivores in the tropics have a more narrow diet than those in temperate climates. Walla and fellow researchers found that insects in tropical zones are indeed more specialized. Walla said he and CMU students have worked on the data collection for many years in Ecuador.

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