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Data from: Proximity to canopy mediates changes in the defensive chemistry and herbivore loads of an understory tropical shrub, Piper kelleyi

Citation

Glassmire, Andrea E. et al. (2018), Data from: Proximity to canopy mediates changes in the defensive chemistry and herbivore loads of an understory tropical shrub, Piper kelleyi, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v6p96q5

Abstract

Phytochemical traits are a key component of plant defense theory. Chemical ecology has been biased towards studying effects of individual metabolites even though effective plant defenses are comprised of diverse mixtures of metabolites. We tested the phytochemical landscape hypothesis, positing that trophic interactions are contingent upon their spatial location across a phytochemically diverse landscape. Specifically, intraspecific phytochemical changes associated with vertical strata in forests were hypothesized to affect herbivore communities of the neotropical shrub Piper kelleyi Tepe (Piperaceae). Using a field experiment, we found that phytochemical diversity increased with canopy height, and higher levels of phytochemical diversity located near the canopy were characterized by tradeoffs between photoactive and non-photoactive biosynthetic pathways. For understory plants closer to the ground, phytochemical diversity increased as direct light transmittance decreased, and these plants were characterized by up to 37% reductions in herbivory. Our results suggest that intraspecific phytochemical diversity structures herbivore communities across the landscape, affecting total herbivory.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 1502059 and DEB 1442103

Location

Ecuador