Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 979–988 | Cite as

Vegetation structure determines insect herbivore diversity in seasonally dry tropical forests

  • Camila Rabelo Oliveira LealEmail author
  • Jhonathan Oliveira Silva
  • Leandro Sousa-Souto
  • Frederico de Siqueira Neves


Vegetation structure can often determine insect herbivore fauna in forests, but this mechanism has been demonstrated in seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTFs) only at small spatial scales. In this study we evaluated the effects of the geographical location of SDTFs and vegetation structure on insect herbivore communities (leaf-chewing and sap-sucking guilds) in three Brazilian ecoregions (Cerrado, Cerrado/Caatinga transition, and Caatinga). We tested the following predictions: (1) insect herbivore species composition, richness, abundance and beta diversity differ among forests in different ecoregions; (2) insect richness, abundance and beta diversity are positively related to tree richness and density; (3) spatial turnover of species is the primary mechanism that generates herbivorous insect β-diversity in different ecoregions, and is positively influenced by tree richness. The composition, richness, and abundance of herbivorous insects differed over SDFs along the gradient of Cerrado and Caatinga. Both herbivore guilds responded positively to tree richness. Tree density only determined the richness and abundance of sap-sucking herbivores. Insect β-diversity was similar among Cerrado and transition areas, but lower in Caatinga itself; β-diversity was also positively affected by tree richness. Species turnover, as opposed to nestedness, was the main mechanism generating β-diversity, but itself was not related to tree richness. We demonstrate in this study the importance of landscape diversity and availability of local resources for herbivorous insect communities, and we emphasize the importance of SDTF conservation in different ecoregions as a result of species turnover.


Herbivorous Multiplicative partition Nestedness Resource availability Simpson dissimilarity Spatial scale 



The authors wish to thank P.M.F.G. Figueiredo and L.A. Evangelista for their help in data sampling and identification of morphospecies and L.A.D. Falcão for his comments on the early drafts of this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the staff of the Instituto Estadual de Florestas (IEF-MG) for allowing us to stay and work, and for logistical support. We are also grateful to Vincenzo A. Ellis for kindly revising the English grammar and spelling. We are thankful for the financial support provided by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa e à Inovação Tecnológica do Estado de Sergipe (FAPITEC), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Rede Matas Secas.

Supplementary material

10841_2016_9930_MOESM1_ESM.doc (185 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 185 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila Rabelo Oliveira Leal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jhonathan Oliveira Silva
    • 2
  • Leandro Sousa-Souto
    • 3
  • Frederico de Siqueira Neves
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia AnimalUniversidade Estadual de Campinas—UnicampCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.Colegiado de EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco—UnivasfSenhor do BonfimBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade Federal de Sergipe—UFSSão CristóvãoBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Biologia GeralUniversidade Federal de Minas Gerais—UFMGBelo HorizonteBrazil

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