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Plant traits affecting herbivory on tree recruits in highly diverse subtropical forests


Schuldt, Andreas; Bruelheide, Helge; Durka, Walter; Eichenberg, David; Fischer, Markus; Kröber, Wenzel; Härdtle, Werner; Ma, Keping; Michalski, Stefan G; Palm, Wolf-Ulrich; Schmid, Bernhard; Welk, Erik; Zhou, Hongzhang; Assmann, Thorsten (2012). Plant traits affecting herbivory on tree recruits in highly diverse subtropical forests. Ecology Letters, 15(7):732-739.

Abstract

Differences in herbivory among woody species can greatly affect the functioning of forest ecosystems, particularly in species-rich (sub)tropical regions. However, the relative importance of the different plant traits which determine herbivore damage remains unclear. Defence traits can have strong effects on herbivory, but rarely studied geographical range characteristics could complement these effects through evolutionary associations with herbivores. Herein, we use a large number of morphological, chemical, phylogenetic and biogeographical characteristics to analyse interspecific differences in herbivory on tree saplings in subtropical China. Unexpectedly, we found no significant effects of chemical defence traits. Rather, herbivory was related to the plants' leaf morphology, local abundance and climatic niche characteristics, which together explained 70% of the interspecific variation in herbivory in phylogenetic regression. Our study indicates that besides defence traits and apparency to herbivores, previously neglected measures of large-scale geographical host distribution are important factors influencing local herbivory patterns among plant species.

Differences in herbivory among woody species can greatly affect the functioning of forest ecosystems, particularly in species-rich (sub)tropical regions. However, the relative importance of the different plant traits which determine herbivore damage remains unclear. Defence traits can have strong effects on herbivory, but rarely studied geographical range characteristics could complement these effects through evolutionary associations with herbivores. Herein, we use a large number of morphological, chemical, phylogenetic and biogeographical characteristics to analyse interspecific differences in herbivory on tree saplings in subtropical China. Unexpectedly, we found no significant effects of chemical defence traits. Rather, herbivory was related to the plants' leaf morphology, local abundance and climatic niche characteristics, which together explained 70% of the interspecific variation in herbivory in phylogenetic regression. Our study indicates that besides defence traits and apparency to herbivores, previously neglected measures of large-scale geographical host distribution are important factors influencing local herbivory patterns among plant species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:BEF-China, ecosystem functioning, Gutianshan National Nature Reserve, latitudinal range, phenolics,phytochemical diversity, plant defense, plant–insect interaction, species richness, tannins
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:15 Aug 2012 07:12
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:55
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1461-023X
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01792.x
PubMed ID:22548792
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-64100

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