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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Plant-sex-biased tritrophic interactions on dioecious willow

Kabir, Md. Faisal; Karlsson Moritz, Kim; Stenberg, Johan A.


Plant sex effects on herbivores are well studied, but little is known about these effects on predators and predator-herbivore dynamics. Here we take a holistic approach to study, simultaneously, plant sex effects on herbivore and predator preference and performance, as well as population densities and predation pressure in the field. For dioecious Salix cinerea (grey willow) we found that male plants represented higher host plant quality than females for an omnivorous predator (Anthocoris nemorum, common flower bug), while host plant quality for its herbivorous prey (Phratora vulgatissima, blue willow beetle) was not sex-biased. The herbivore strongly preferred the host plant sex (female) that was suboptimal for the predator, which in turn followed its prey to female plants, leading to plant-sex-biased predation. These results provide new insight into the far-reaching effects of plant sex on insect communities, and open up novel opportunities for improving biocontrol of the herbivore in Salix short rotation coppice.


community genetics; dioecy; extended phenotype; genetic variation; herbivory; indirect effects; interaction modification; plant gender; sex-biased herbivory; tritrophic interactions

Published in

2014, volume: 5, number: 12, article number: 153

Authors' information

Kabir, Md. Faisal
Karlsson Moritz, Kim (Karlsson Moritz, Kim)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Stenberg, Johan A. (Stenberg, Johan A)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

UKÄ Subject classification


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