Insect herbivores should follow plants escaping their relatives

Benjamin Yguel, Richard Ian Bailey, Claire Villemant, Amaury Brault, Hervé Jactel, Andreas Prinzing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Abstract Neighboring plants within a local community
may be separated by many millions of years of evolutionary history, potentially reducing enemy pressure by insect
herbivores. However, it is not known how the evolutionary
isolation of a plant affects the fitness of an insect herbivore
living on such a plant, especially the herbivore’s enemy pressure. Here, we suggest that evolutionary isolation of host
plants may operate similarly as spatial isolation and reduce
the enemy pressure per insect herbivore. We investigated the
effect of the phylogenetic isolation of host trees on the pressure exerted by specialist and generalist enemies (parasitoids and birds) on ectophagous Lepidoptera and galling Hymenoptera. We found that the phylogenetic isolation of host trees
decreases pressure by specialist enemies on these insect herbivores. In Lepidoptera, decreasing enemy pressure resulted
from the density dependence of enemy attack, a mechanism
often observed in herbivores. In contrast, in galling Hymenoptera, enemy pressure declined with the phylogenetic isolation of host trees per se, as well as with the parallel decline
in leaf damage by non-galling insects. Our results suggest
that plants that leave their phylogenetic ancestral neighborhood can trigger, partly through simple density-dependency,
an enemy release and fitness increase of the few insect herbivores that succeed in tracking these plants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOecologia
Early online date23 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Community phylogeny
  • Macroevolution
  • Trophic chain
  • Parasitism rate
  • Temperate forest

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