Ecology of Invertebrate Nutrition


All animals require a number of chemicals for the formation of body structures and for life processes. These nutrient chemicals are similar throughout the animal kingdom because of the basic chemical similarity of all animal life. Most invertebrates acquire the necessary nutrients from their food, but microorganisms sometimes provide nutrients that are lacking in the food and, especially in marine environments, direct uptake of nutrients from the water may be important.

Keywords: chemoautotrophic bacteria; microorganism; nutrient balance; photosynthesis; symbiosis; wood‐feeding; viviparous insect; yolk

Figure 1.

Essential fatty acids. Many invertebrates require an external source of polyunsaturated fatty acids with double bonds in the ω3 or ω6 positions.

Figure 2.

Sparing phenylalanine. Gallotannin is hydrolysed to gallic acid in the midgut of the grasshopper Anacridium melanorhodon. Gallic acid is then utilized in cuticular sclerotization, replacing phenylalanine to some extent. This permits the phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, to be used in other situations where it is irreplaceable.

Figure 3.

Absorption of inorganic ions by a freshwater insect. Tip of the abdomen of a culicine mosquito larva showing the anal papillae. The epidermis of these structures contains chloride cells through which inorganic ions are absorbed.

Figure 4.

Postingestive fate of carbohydrate and nitrogen over the fifth larval stage of the migratory locust Locusta migratoria. Weights at the top show the total quantities ingested. Notice that when larger quantities are consumed greater proportions are not used for growth (incorporation into tissues) but are removed from the body (data from Zanotto et al., ).



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Further Reading

Barton Browne L (1995) Ontogenetic changes in feeding behavior. In: Chapman RF and de Boer G (eds) Regulatory Mechanisms in Insect Feeding, pp. 307–342. New York: Chapman and Hall.

Cavanaugh CM (1994) Microbial symbiosis: patterns of diversity in the marine environment. American Zoologist 34: 79–89.

Dadd R (1985) Nutrition: organisms. In: Kerkut GA and Gilbert LI (eds) Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, pp. 313–390. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D and Chambers PG (1995) The mechanisms of nutritional homeostasis. In: Chapman RF and de Boer G (eds) Regulatory Mechanisms in Insect Feeding, pp. 251–278. New York: Chapman and Hall.

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Chapman, RF(Apr 2002) Ecology of Invertebrate Nutrition. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003210]