Associational resistance and associational susceptibility: specialist herbivores show contrasting responses to tree stand diversification
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Plath, M., Dorn, S., Riedel, J. et al. Oecologia (2012) 169: 477. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2215-6
- 477 Downloads
Heterospecific neighbors may reduce damage to a focal plant by lowering specialist herbivore loads (associational resistance hypothesis), or enhance damage by increasing generalist herbivore loads (associational susceptibility hypothesis). We tested the associational effects of tree diversity on herbivory patterns of the tropical focal tree Tabebuia rosea in an experimental plantation setup, which contained tree monocultures and mixed stands. We found higher herbivore damage to T. rosea at higher tree diversity, indicating that T. rosea did not benefit from associational resistance but rather experienced associational susceptibility. The specific consideration of the two dominant insect herbivore species of T. rosea, the specialist chrysomelid Walterianella inscripta and the specialist pyralid Eulepte gastralis, facilitated understanding of the detected damage patterns. Tree diversity exerted opposite effects on tree infestation by the two herbivores. These findings point to resource concentration effects for the chrysomelid beetle (favored by tree monoculture) and to resource dilution effects for the pyralid caterpillar (favored by tree mixture) as underlying mechanisms of herbivore distribution. A strong contribution of the pyralid to overall damage patterns in diversified stands suggests that associational susceptibility may not necessarily be related to higher abundances of generalist herbivores but may also result from specialized herbivores affected by resource dilution effects. Thus, the identity and biology of herbivore species has to be taken into account when attempting to predict damage patterns in forest ecosystems.