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Data from: Are tree species diversity and genotypic diversity effects on insect herbivores mediated by ants?

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Campos-Navarrete, María José; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Munguía-Rosas, Miguel A.; Parra-Tabla, Víctor (2015). Data from: Are tree species diversity and genotypic diversity effects on insect herbivores mediated by ants? [Dataset]. Dryad.


Plant diversity can influence predators and omnivores and such effects may in turn influence herbivores and plants. However, evidence for these ecological feedbacks is rare. We evaluated if the effects of tree species (SD) and genotypic diversity (GD) on the abundance of different guilds of insect herbivores associated with big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) were contingent upon the protective effects of ants tending extra-floral nectaries of this species. This study was conducted within a larger experiment consisting of mahogany monocultures and species polycultures of four species and –within each of these two plot types– mahogany was represented by either one or four maternal families. We selected 24 plots spanning these treatment combinations, 10 mahogany plants/plot, and within each plot experimentally reduced ant abundance on half of the selected plants, and surveyed ant and herbivore abundance. There were positive effects of SD on generalist leaf-chewers and sap-feeders, but for the latter group this effect depended on the ant reduction treatment: SD positively influenced sap-feeders under ambient ant abundance but had no effect when ant abundance was reduced; at the same time, ants had negative effects on sap feeders in monoculture but no effect in polyculture. In contrast, SD did not influence specialist stem-borers or leaf-miners and this effect was not contingent upon ant reduction. Finally, GD did not influence any of the herbivore guilds studied, and such effects did not depend on the ant treatment. Overall, we show that tree species diversity influenced interactions between a focal plant species (mahogany) and ants, and that such effects in turn mediated plant diversity effects on some (sap-feeders) but not all the herbivores guilds studied. Our results suggest that the observed patterns are dependent on the combined effects of herbivore identity, diet breadth, and the source of plant diversity.

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