A nonlinear relationship between genetic diversity and productivity in a polyphagous seed beetle
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- Burls, K.J., Shapiro, J., Forister, M.L. et al. Oecologia (2014) 175: 151. doi:10.1007/s00442-014-2893-y
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There has been a renewed interest in the effects of genetic diversity on population-level and community-level processes. Many of these studies have found non-additive, positive effects of diversity, but these studies have rarely examined ecological mechanisms by which diverse populations increase productivity. We used the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to study genetic diversity in insect host preference and fecundity and its effects on total productivity and resource use. We created genetically distinct lineages that varied in host preference and fecundity and then assembled groups consisting of one, three, five, or all ten lineages. We found that lineages with intermediate diversity had the highest productivity, though resource use did not change in diverse groups. In addition, lineages showed substantial plasticity in host preference when preference was assayed either individually or in groups, and productivity was much lower in groups than predicted by individual assays. These results highlight the interplay of genetic diversity, resource variation, and phenotypic plasticity in determining the ecological consequences of genetic diversity. In addition, when plasticity modifies a population’s response to population density, this may create a complex interaction between genetic diversity and density, influencing selective pressures on the population and potentially maintaining genetic diversity across generations.