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Data from: Multiple plant traits shape the genetic basis of herbivore community assembly

Cite this dataset

Barbour, Matthew A. et al. (2015). Data from: Multiple plant traits shape the genetic basis of herbivore community assembly [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Community genetics research has posited a genetic basis to the assembly of ecological communities. For arthropod herbivores in particular, there is strong support that genetic variation in host plants is a key factor shaping their diversity and composition. However, the specific plant phenotypes underlying herbivore responses remain poorly explored for most systems. 2. We address this knowledge gap by examining the influence of both genetic and phenotypic variation in a dominant host-plant species, Salix hookeriana, on its associated arthropod herbivore community in a common garden experiment. Specifically, we surveyed herbivore responses among five different arthropod feeding guilds to 26 distinct S. hookeriana genotypes. Moreover, we quantified the heritability of a suite of plant traits that determine leaf quality (e.g. phenolic compounds, trichomes, specific leaf area, C : N) and whole-plant architecture, to identify which traits best accounted for herbivore community responses to S. hookeriana genotype. 3. We found that total herbivore abundance and community composition differed considerably among S. hookeriana genotypes, with strong and independent responses of several species and feeding guilds driving these patterns. We also found that leaf phenolic chemistry displayed extensive heritable variation, whereas leaf physiology and plant architecture tended to be less heritable. Of these traits, herbivore responses were primarily associated with leaf phenolics and plant architecture; however, different herbivore species and feeding guilds were associated with different sets of traits. Despite our thorough trait survey, plant genotype remained a significant predictor of herbivore responses in most trait association analyses, suggesting that unmeasured host-plant characteristics and/or interspecific interactions were also contributing factors. 4. Taken together, our results support that the genetic basis of herbivore community assembly occurs through a suite of plant traits for different herbivore species and feeding guilds. Still, identifying these phenotypic mechanisms requires measuring a broad range of plant traits and likely further consideration of how these traits affect interspecific interactions.

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