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Data from: Trophic level, successional age and trait matching determine specialization of deadwood-based interaction networks of saproxylic beetles

Citation

Wende, Beate et al. (2017), Data from: Trophic level, successional age and trait matching determine specialization of deadwood-based interaction networks of saproxylic beetles, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4p169

Abstract

The specialization of ecological networks provides important insights into possible consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning. However, mostly mutualistic and antagonistic interactions of living organisms have been studied, whereas detritivore networks and their successional changes are largely unexplored. We studied the interactions of saproxylic (deadwood-dependent) beetles with their dead host trees. In a large-scale experiment, 764 logs of 13 tree species were exposed to analyse network structure of three trophic groups of saproxylic beetles over 3 successional years. We found remarkably high specialization of deadwood-feeding xylophages and lower specialization of fungivorous and predatory species. During deadwood succession, community composition, network specialization and network robustness changed differently for the functional groups. To reveal potential drivers of network specialization, we linked species' functional traits to their network roles, and tested for trait matching between plant (i.e. chemical compounds) and beetle (i.e. body size) traits. We found that both plant and animal traits are major drivers of species specialization, and that trait matching can be more important in explaining interactions than neutral processes reflecting species abundance distributions. High network specialization in the early successional stage and decreasing network robustness during succession indicate vulnerability of detritivore networks to reduced tree species diversity and beetle extinctions, with unknown consequences for wood decomposition and nutrient cycling.

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