Spatial heterogeneity in the relative impacts of foliar quality and predation pressure on red oak, Quercus rubra, arthropod communities.
Summary of "Spatial heterogeneity in the relative impacts of foliar quality and predation pressure on red oak, Quercus rubra, arthropod communities."
Predation pressure and resource availability often interact in structuring herbivore communities, with their relative influence varying in space and time. The operation of multiple ecological pressures and guild-specific herbivore responses may combine to override simple predictions of how the roles of plant quality and predation pressure vary in space. For 2 years at the Coweeta LTER in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, we conducted a bird exclosure experiment on red oak (Quercus rubra) saplings to investigate the effects of bird predation on red oak arthropod communities. We established bird exclosures at six sites along an elevational gradient and estimated variation in foliar nitrogen and bird predation pressure along this gradient. Foliar nitrogen concentrations increased with elevation while our index of bird predation pressure was variable across sites. Greater arthropod densities were detected inside exclosures; however, this result was mainly driven by the response of phloem feeders which were much more prevalent inside exclosures than on control trees. There was little evidence for an effect of bird predation on the other arthropod guilds. Consequently, there was no evidence of a trophic cascade either in terms of leaf damage or tree growth. Finally, we found more variation in arthropod density among trees within sites than variation in arthropod density among sites, indicating the importance of micro-site variation in structuring arthropod communities.
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, GA, 31061, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in the following journal.
- PubMed Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20711610
- DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-010-1750-x
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