Plant diversity has been found to increase herbivore diversity, including abundance, species richness, and phylogenetic diversity. However, it is yet to be established at which spatial scale these effects are strongest, because host finding and community assembly may be shaped by host diversity both in local habitat patches and at larger scales.
Using arthropod herbivore data collected from a large biodiversity and ecosystem function experiment in China (BEF-China), we analyzed how habitat patch (individual study plots) and larger-scale (surrounding study plots) tree diversity relates to species richness, abundance, functional diversity, and phylogenetic diversity of herbivore assemblages on focal plants.
Tree diversity of both the focal habitat patch and larger-scale patch neighborhood affected herbivore diversity patterns and host plant selection, with the effect being greater for the former. Furthermore, focal and neighboring trees that are phylogenetically related were found more likely to share similar herbivores.
Synthesis. By focusing on tree diversity effects of both the local habitat patch and wider patch neighborhoods, our findings highlight the importance of considering additional scales to give a more nuanced understanding of the mechanisms underlying herbivore community structure and diversity patterns in species-rich forests.
Figure 1. Conceptual illustration of focal habitat patch- and wider patch neighborhood scale tree diversity at two different levels of tree diversity.
Figure 2. Relationships between focal plot and neighbourhood plot tree richness and (a) herbivore species richness, (b) abundance, (c) functional diversity (FD), and (d) phylogenetic diversity (PD) of focal plots.
Figure 3. Relationships between focal plot, neighbourhood plot and total tree phylogenetic diversity and (a) herbivore species richness, (b) abundance, (c) functional diversity (FD), (d) phylogenetic diversity (PD), (e) mean pairwise distance (MPD), and (f) mean nearest taxon distance (MNTD) of focal plots.
Figure 4. Relationships between tree phylogenetic distance of focal plots and neighbor plots and (a) species richness, (b) abundance, (c) functional diversity (FD), and (d) phylogenetic diversity (PD) of herbivores in focal plots.
Yi Li, Ming‐Qiang Wang, Douglas Chesters, Perttu Anttonen, Shi‐Kun Guo, Peng‐Fei Guo, Jing‐Ting Chen, Keping Ma, Helge Bruelheide, Andreas Schuldt
*, Chao‐Dong Zhu
*. 2022. Differential impacts on herbivore diversity and scale‐dependence of tree diversity in subtropical forests. Journal of Ecology. 111(3): 666-675. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.14054.