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Effects of phylogeny, leaf traits, and the altitudinal distribution of host plants on herbivore assemblages on congeneric Acer species

Abstract

Historical, niche-based, and stochastic processes have been proposed as the mechanisms that drive community assembly. In plant–herbivore systems, these processes can correspond to phylogeny, leaf traits, and the distribution of host plants, respectively. Although patterns of herbivore assemblages among plant species have been repeatedly examined, the effects of these factors among co-occurring congeneric host plant species have rarely been studied. Our aim was to reveal the process of community assembly for herbivores by investigating the effects of phylogeny, leaf traits, and the altitudinal distribution of closely related host plants of the genus Acer. We sampled leaf functional traits for 30 Acer species in Japan. Using a newly constructed phylogeny, we determined that three of the six measured leaf traits (leaf thickness, C/N ratio, and condensed tannin content) showed a phylogenetic signal. In a field study, we sampled herbivore communities on 14 Acer species within an elevation gradient and examined relationships between herbivore assemblages and host plants. We found that herbivore assemblages were significantly correlated with phylogeny, leaf traits, phylogenetic signals, and the altitudinal distribution of host plants. Our results indicate that the interaction between historical and current ecological processes shapes herbivore community assemblages.

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Acknowledgments

We thank K. Watanabe, S. Saito, J. Saihanna, Y. Okamura and Y. Igarashi for their help in the field and laboratory and N. Kamata and technical staff of the University Forests in Chichibu, the University of Tokyo for their kind support. We also thank Nippon Shinyaku and the garden shop of Tsukasa Maples for providing specimens for the DNA extractions. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science to M. M. (no. 24310170).

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Correspondence to Masashi Murakami.

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Communicated by Jennifer Thaler.

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Nakadai, R., Murakami, M. & Hirao, T. Effects of phylogeny, leaf traits, and the altitudinal distribution of host plants on herbivore assemblages on congeneric Acer species. Oecologia 175, 1237–1245 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-014-2964-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-014-2964-0

Keywords

  • Functional traits
  • Host specificity
  • Maple
  • Phylogenetic conservatism
  • Temperate mixed forest