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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Spatial location dominates over host plant genotype in structuring an herbivore community

Tack, Ayco J. M.; Ovaskainen, Otso; Pulkkinen, Pertti; Roslin, Tomas


Recent work has shown a potential role for both host plant genotype and spatial context in structuring insect communities. In this study, we use three separate data sets on herbivorous insects on oak (Quercus robur) to estimate the relative effects of host plant genotype (G), location (E), and the G x E interaction on herbivore community structure: a common garden experiment replicated at the landscape scale (similar to 5 km(2)); two common gardens separated at the regional scale (similar to 10 000 km(2)); and survey data on wild trees in various spatial settings. Our experiments and survey reveal that, at the landscape scale, the insect community is strongly affected by the spatial setting, with 32% of the variation in species richness explained by spatial connectivity. In contrast, G and G x E play minor roles in structuring the insect community. Results remained similar when extending the spatial scale of the study from the more local (landscape) level to the regional level. We conclude that in our study system, spatial processes play a major role in structuring these insect communities at both the landscape and regional scales, whereas host plant genotype seems of secondary importance.


community genetics; Finland; genotype-environment interaction; intraspecific genetic variation; metacommunity; plant-insect interactions; plant traits; Quercus robur; spatial context; spatial scale

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2010, Volume: 91, number: 9, pages: 2660-2672

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