chapter  9
12 Pages

Nutritional ecology and its links with artificial diets

Much of the progress in the science and technology of artificial diets has come from fundamental studies of the composition of natural foods of insects and from understanding how insect feeding mechanisms deal with the nutrients and how they cope with the antinutrients that are often present in the natural foods. A large measure of the current knowledge of these insect feeding dynamics and mechanisms is derived from the field known as nutritional ecology, a hybrid of nutrition and ecology. Although nutritional ecology of insects had its origins in such early works as those of Fraenkel throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Scriber and Slansky (1981) used this term to compare feeding efficiencies of insects from various feeding niches. Taken in an even broader sense, nutritional ecology, as it pertains to insects, is the study of natural foods of insects and the interplay (or reciprocal interactions) between insect feeding systems, including nutritionally related aspects of metabolic pathways and the foods insects consume in nature (i.e., outside of the laboratory).