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Entomology: Judith X. Becerra

Adjunct Scientist

I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in insect-plant interactions. My current research combines ecological, biogeographycal, and chemical information with molecular phylogenetics to identify macroevolutionary patterns of host shifts, co-adaptive forces shaping coevolution and evolutionary strategies of plant chemical defenses. I am also interested in plant and insect diversification and ecological chemical interactions between insects and plants.
Photo of larva.

I have done research in the Mexican tropical dry forests with the plant genus Bursera and their herbivores, the beetle genus Blepharida. These two groups have interacted for the last 100 million years and are both highly diverse, with spectacular adaptations and counteradaptations.

Visit Judit Becerra's website

Selected publications

Evans, P. H. and J. X. Becerra. In press. Non-terpenoid resins from Bursera trees. Chemoecology.

Evans, P. H. and J. X. Becerra. In press. Non-terpenoid resins from Bursera trees. Journal of Odors and Fragances.

Evans, P. H. and J. X. Becerra. 2006. Non-terpenoid essential oils from Bursera chemapodicta. Flavour and Fragr. J. 21:616-618.

Becerra, J. X. 2005. Timing the origin and expansion of the Mexican tropical dry forests. PNAS. 102: 10919-10023.

Becerra, J. X. 2004. Molecular Systematics of Blepharida beetles (Chrysomelidae: Alticinae) and relatives. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 30: 107-117.

Becerra, J. X. 2004. Ecology and Evolution of the New World Blepharida. In: Biology of the Chrysomelidae (Jolivet P., P. Cox and D. Petitpierre,eds) pp. pp. 137-143. SPB Academic Publishing bv, The Hague, The Netherlands

Becerra, J. X. 2003. Synchronous coadaptation in an ancient case of herbivory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100(22): 12804-12807.

Becerra, J. X. 2003. Evolution of Mexican Bursera (Burseraceae) inferred from ITS, ETS, and 5S nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 26: 300-309.

Becerra, J. X., P. H. Evans, and W. Bowers. 2001. Interactions between chemical and mechanical defenses in the genus Bursera (Burseraceae) and their implications for herbivores. American Zoologist 41:865-876.

Becerra, J. X. and E. Venable. 1999. Macroevolution of insect-plant associations: The relevance of host biogeography to host affiliation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 96:12626-12631.

Becerra, J. X. 1997. Insects on plants: macroevolutionary chemical trends in host use. Science 276:253-256.

Becerra, J. X. 1994. Squirt-gun defense in Bursera and the chrysomelid counterploy. Ecology 75:1991-1996.

J.X. Becerra. 1993. Chrysomelid behavorial counterploys to secretive canals in plants. IN: Novel Aspects of the Biology of Chrysomelidae. Jolivet, P.H.; Cox, M.L.; Petitpierre, E. (Eds.) Series: Series Entomologica , Vol. 50. Springer.

Becerra, J. X. I. and D. G. Lloyd. 1992. Competition-dependent abscission of self-pollinated flowers of Phormium tenax (Agavaceae) - a second action of self-incompatibility? Evolution 46(2):458-469.

Becerra, J. X. and D. L. Venable. 1990. Rapid-terpene-bath and "squirt-gun defense" in Bursera schlechtendalii and the counterploy of Chrysomelid Beetles. Biotropica 22(3): 320-323.

Becerra, J. X. and L. Venable. 1989. Extrafloral nectaries: a defense against ant-Homoptera mutualisms? Oikos. 55:276-280.

Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona
Forbes 410, PO Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85721-0036
Phone: (520) 621-1151 • Fax: (520) 621-1150 • E-mail:

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College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Arizona Cooperative Extension