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Plant‐insect chemical communication in ecological communities: an information theory perspective


Zu, Pengjuan; García‐García, Reinaldo; Schuman, Meredith Christine; Saavedra, Serguei; Melián, Carlos J (2023). Plant‐insect chemical communication in ecological communities: an information theory perspective. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 61(3):445-453.

Abstract

Cross-species communication, where signals are sent by one species and perceived by others, is one of the most intriguing types of communication that functionally links different species to form complex ecological networks. Global change and human activity can affect communication by increasing fluctuations in species composition and phenology, altering signal profiles and intensity, and introducing noise. So far, most studies on cross-species communication have focused on a few specific species isolated from ecological communities. Scaling up investigations of cross-species
communication to the community level is currently hampered by a lack of conceptual and practical methodologies. Here, we propose an interdisciplinary framework based on information theory to investigate mechanisms shaping cross-species communication at the community level. We use plants and insects, the cornerstones of most ecosystems, as a showcase; and focus on chemical communication as the key communication channel. We first introduce some basic concepts of information theory, then we illustrate information patterns in plant-insect chemical communication, followed by a further exploration of how to integrate information theory into ecological and evolutionary processes to form testable mechanistic hypotheses. We conclude by highlighting the importance of community-level information as a means to better understand the maintenance and workings of ecological systems, especially during rapid global change.

Abstract

Cross-species communication, where signals are sent by one species and perceived by others, is one of the most intriguing types of communication that functionally links different species to form complex ecological networks. Global change and human activity can affect communication by increasing fluctuations in species composition and phenology, altering signal profiles and intensity, and introducing noise. So far, most studies on cross-species communication have focused on a few specific species isolated from ecological communities. Scaling up investigations of cross-species
communication to the community level is currently hampered by a lack of conceptual and practical methodologies. Here, we propose an interdisciplinary framework based on information theory to investigate mechanisms shaping cross-species communication at the community level. We use plants and insects, the cornerstones of most ecosystems, as a showcase; and focus on chemical communication as the key communication channel. We first introduce some basic concepts of information theory, then we illustrate information patterns in plant-insect chemical communication, followed by a further exploration of how to integrate information theory into ecological and evolutionary processes to form testable mechanistic hypotheses. We conclude by highlighting the importance of community-level information as a means to better understand the maintenance and workings of ecological systems, especially during rapid global change.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Research Priority Programs > Global Change and Biodiversity
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
540 Chemistry
Uncontrolled Keywords:Plant Science, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 May 2023
Deposited On:10 Mar 2022 09:45
Last Modified:26 Feb 2024 02:51
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1759-6831
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/jse.12841
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English