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From the leaf to the community: distinct dimensions of phytochemical diversity shape plant-insect interactions within and among individual plants

Citation

Cosmo, Leandro et al. (2021), From the leaf to the community: distinct dimensions of phytochemical diversity shape plant-insect interactions within and among individual plants, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p8cz8w9mz

Abstract

Plant secondary chemistry is known to be an important driver of plant-insect community structure across ecological scales. Recently, the concept of phytochemical diversity has been introduced to help describe variation in plant secondary chemistry and explain how this variation affects community structure. Previous studies show that phytochemical diversity among individuals and species results in phytochemical mosaics, known as the phytochemical landscape. However, plant traits can vary at finer scales, such as within individuals, and even a single host plant may be perceived as an entire phytochemical landscape by an interacting insect.

Using the neotropical shrub Piper amalago, we tested and compared how herbivory, caterpillar biodiversity and plant-herbivore network structure are affected by the compositional (number and concentration of compounds) and structural (diversity of distinct chemical structures) dimensions of phytochemical diversity. We analysed variation among individual plants and among plant height strata within individual plants. This allowed us to decompose phytochemical diversity within and among plant individuals and analyse how variation at both scales affects the plant-herbivore network.

We found that both within and among plants greater structural diversity decreased herbivore feeding damage. Furthermore, each dimension of phytochemical diversity has different effects on herbivore biodiversity and network structure depending on the scale of biological organization.

Within plants, the compositional dimension, specifically low concentrations of compounds tentatively identified as Piper amides, increased herbivore biodiversity. This dimension also increased the capacity of strata within plants to mediate ecological cascades through direct and indirect effects on herbivore abundance in the plant-herbivore network. In contrast, a greater structural diversity among-plants decreased herbivore biodiversity and the capacity of plants to affect all other herbivores and plants directly and indirectly in the network.

Synthesis: Based on our results we expand the concept of the phytochemical landscape to multiple scales of biological organization and provide evidence that phytochemical diversity may be maintained by how its multiple dimensions have distinct roles across scales of biological organization.

Methods

See Cosmo et al. 2021. Journal of Ecology.

Usage Notes

See "README_Cosmo_et_al_phytochemical_diversity.txt"

Funding

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Award: 2014/50316-7

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Award: 2013/25991-0

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Award: 2013/25991-0

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Award: 001

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 304607/2019-3

Fundo de Apoio ao Ensino, à Pesquisa e à Extensão, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Award: 60412

Fundo de Apoio ao Ensino, à Pesquisa e à Extensão, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Award: PAPDIC 2014/4715

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 307015/2015-7

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 307447/2018-9

The Royal Society of London, Award: Newton Advanced Fellowship

Fundo de Apoio ao Ensino, à Pesquisa e à Extensão, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Award: 60412