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Data for: Plant diversity effects on herbivory are related to soil biodiversity and plant chemistry

Citation

Ristok, Christian et al. (2022), Data for: Plant diversity effects on herbivory are related to soil biodiversity and plant chemistry, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d51c5b046

Abstract

Insect herbivory is a key process in ecosystem functioning. While theory predicts that plant diversity modulates herbivory, the mechanistic links remain unclear. We postulated that the plant metabolome mechanistically links plant diversity and herbivory.

In late summer and in spring, we assessed individual plant aboveground herbivory rates and metabolomes of seven plant species in experimental plant communities varying in plant species diversity and resource acquisition strategies. In the same communities, we also measured plant individual biomass as well as soil microbial and nematode community composition.

Herbivory rates decreased with increasing plant species richness. Path modelling revealed that plant species richness and community resource acquisition strategy correlated with soil community composition. In particular, changes in nematode community composition were related to plant metabolome composition and thereby herbivory rates.

These results suggest that soil community composition plays an important role in reducing herbivory rates with increasing plant diversity by changing plant metabolomes.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: FOR 1451, FOR 5000, FZT 118, 202548816

Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt