Effects of plant hybridization on the structure and composition of a highly rich community of cynipid gall wasps: the case of the oak hybrid complex Quercus magnoliifolia x Quercus resinosa in Mexico
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- Pérez-López, G., González-Rodríguez, A., Oyama, K. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2016) 25: 633. doi:10.1007/s10531-016-1074-1
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The richness and composition of herbivore communities can be influenced by the genetic variation of host plants. Hybrid plant populations are ideal to test these effects because they usually harbor high genetic variation and display a mosaic of phenotypic characters. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of hybridization between two Mexican white oaks, Q. magnoliifolia and Q. resinosa, on the composition and diversity of the associated cynipid gall wasp community. We used eight nuclear microsatellite markers to genotype 150 oak individuals sampled at three different altitudes at the Tequila volcano and conducted monthly samplings of galls in each individual over the course of 2 years. A Bayesian assignment analysis indicated genetic admixture between the two oak species at the study site and allowed classifying individuals as Q. magnoliifolia, Q. resinosa or hybrids. Gall morphospecies richness was significantly higher in the hybrids, intermediate in Q. magnoliifolia and lower in Q. resinosa. Overall, 48 different gall morphospecies were found, with 21 of them being shared among the three groups of plants, 13 between two groups of plants, and 14 were unique to one group of plants, with eight of these being found in hybrids. Several of the shared galls showed differences in abundance among plant groups. Therefore, genetic structure in this oak complex significantly influences the diversity and composition of the associated gall wasp community, and hybrid individuals are probably acting as potential sinks and bridges for the colonization of plant hosts by these highly specialized insect species.