Allometric and phylogenetic variation in insect phosphorus content

H. A. Woods, W. F. Fagan, J. J. Elser, J. F. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


1. Phosphorus content was measured in adult insects and arachnids from 170 species collected in the Sonoran Desert. 2. Across insect body sizes spanning four orders of magnitude, phosphorus content was inversely related to body mass. The largest species (∼1 g dry) had phosphorus contents that were only about 60% (0.62% P absolute) as high as phosphorus contents of the smallest species (∼0.0001 g dry; 0.97% P). Negative phosphorus allometry was observed within each of seven insect orders and within arachnids. 3. Phosphorus contents of insect predators and herbivores were statistically indistinguishable. 4. More recently derived orders tended to have lower phosphorus contents - with the exception of the most recently derived group (Panorpida = Diptera + Lepidoptera), which had high phosphorus contents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Allometry
  • Body size
  • Exoskeleton
  • Phosphorus limitation
  • Stoichiometry


Dive into the research topics of 'Allometric and phylogenetic variation in insect phosphorus content'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this