Unique arthropod communities on different host-plant genotypes results in greater arthropod diversity

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Department of Biological Sciences


Studies on the effect of plant-species diversity on various ecological processes has led to the study of the effects of plant-genetic diversity in the context of community genetics. Arthropod diversity can increase with plant-species or plant-genetic diversity (Wimp et al. in Ecol Lett 7:776-780, 2004). Plant diversity effects can be difficult to separate from other ecological processes, for example, complementarity. We asked three basic questions: (1) Are arthropod communities unique on different host-plant genotypes? (2) Is arthropod diversity greater when associated with greater plant-genetic diversity? (3) Are arthropod communities more closely associated with host-plant genetics than the plant neighborhood? We studied canopy arthropods on Populus fremontii trees randomly planted in a common garden. All trees were planted in a homogeneous matrix, which helped to reduce P. fremontii neighborhood effects. One sample was comprised of few P. fremontii genotypes with many clones. A second sample was comprised of many P. fremontii genotypes with few clones. A second data set was used to examine the relationships between the arthropod community with P. fremontii genetic composition and the neighborhood composition of the focal host plant. Unique arthropod communities were associated with different P. fremontii genotypes, and arthropod community diversity was greater in the sample with greater P. fremontii genotypic diversity. Arthropod community similarity was negatively correlated with P. fremontii genetic distance, but arthropod community similarity was not related to the neighborhood of the P. fremontii host plant.

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Arthropod-Plant Interactions