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Data from: Effects of insularity on insect leaf herbivory and chemical defences in a Mediterranean oak species

Cite this dataset

Moreira, Xoaquin et al. (2020). Data from: Effects of insularity on insect leaf herbivory and chemical defences in a Mediterranean oak species [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: Research on plant-herbivore interactions has shown that islands typically have low abundances and diversity of herbivores because of barriers to dispersal, isolation, and reduced land area. Islands commonly have lower levels of herbivory relative to mainland regions, and, as a consequence, insular plants should exhibit lower levels of defences than their mainland counterparts. Despite these predictions, there are significant gaps in our understanding of insularity effects on plant-herbivore interactions. For instance, most work addressing the effects of insularity on plant-herbivore interactions have compared one or a few islands with a single mainland site. In addition, studies have measured herbivory or plant defences but not both, and the influence of abiotic factors has been neglected. Location: Mediterranean Basin (from Spain to Greece) Taxon: Quercus ilex L. Methods: We conducted a large-scale study to investigate whether insect leaf herbivory and plant chemical defences in holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) differ between insular vs. mainland populations. We further investigated mechanisms by which insularity effects on herbivory may take place by assessing the influence of defences and climatic variables on leaf herbivory. Results: We found that insular populations exhibited lower herbivory and higher defences (condensed tannins) than their mainland counterparts. Our analyses, however, suggest that these concomitant patterns of insect herbivory and plant defences were seemingly unrelated as island vs. mainland differences in defences did not account for the observed pattern in herbivory. Furthermore, climatic factors did not explain insularity effects on either herbivory or plant defences. Main conclusions: Overall, this study provides one of the most robust assessments to date on insularity effects on herbivory and builds towards a better understanding of the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions in insular ecosystems.

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Mediterranean Basin