, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 485-497

Linkages among trait-mediated indirect effects: a new framework for the indirect interaction web

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Plants have diverse ways of responding to damage by herbivores, such as changes in allelochemistry, physiology, morphology, growth, and phenology. These responses form the mechanistic basis for trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMIIs) between organisms on the plants. There is a growing appreciation that such TMIIs form complex networks (i.e., indirect interaction webs) in terrestrial plant-associated arthropod communities. Almost all previous studies have had the same framework: examining trait-mediated indirect effects within a single interactive unit consisting of one initiator of herbivore, a host plant as a mediator, and one receiver [trait-mediated indirect interaction unit (TMIU)]. However, this framework is too simple to understand the dynamics of the indirect interaction web. Recent studies suggest that there is a wide variety of interactions among TMIUs within a community, which may largely affect the outcomes of indirect effects in each unit. Here, we review recent advance in studies of trait-mediated indirect effects in plant-associated arthropod communities and explore the mechanisms of linkages among TMIUs. Then, we argue the importance of examining linkages among TMIUs as a new framework for future studies on the indirect interaction web. Finally, we propose the hypothesis that linkages among TMIUs contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity.