Plant genotype and environment interact to shape a diverse arthropod community on evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

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Abstract
Both an individual's genotype and environment govern its phenotype, and this phenotype may have extended consequences for species interactions and communities. We examined the importance of plant genotype and environmental factors operating at large (habitat) and small (microhabitat) spatial scales in affecting a multitrophic arthropod community on plants. We planted 926 plants from 14 genotypes of Oenothera biennis into five natural habitats that represent the range of environments in which this plant locally occurs. Genotypic differences among plants accounted for as much as 41% of the variation in arthropod diversity (Simpson's diversity index) and also affected arthropod evenness, richness, abundance, and biomass on individual plants. However, the effects of particular plant genotypes on the arthropod community varied across habitats (i.e., there were significant plant genotype?by?habitat interactions). Plant genotype explained more variation in the arthropod community than did environmental variation among microhabitats, but less variation than habitats, as predicted by the scale?dependent hypothesis. Herbivores and omnivores were more strongly affected by plant genetic variation than predators, consistent with the notion that phytophagous insects undergo stronger reciprocal interactions with plants than do predators. We detected heritable variation in arthropod community variables and the ability for the herbivore community to select on plant traits, suggesting that evolution in O. biennis can lead to changes in the arthropod community. Genetic variation in plant size, architecture, and reproductive phenology were the plant traits most strongly correlated with arthropod community variables. Our results demonstrate that genotype?by?environment interactions are a major determinant of arthropod community structure.
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Ecology
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Sponsorship
Our research is funded by Sigma Xi, Mountain Equipment Co?op Environment Fund, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Date Issued
2005-04-01
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Ecological Society of America
Keywords
biodiversity; community evolution; community genetics; community structure; extended phenotype; genetic variation; genotype-by-environment interaction; herbivory; Oenothera biennis; plant-insect interactions; plant resistance; spatial scale
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Johnson, M. T. J., & Agrawal, A. A. (2005). PLANT GENOTYPE AND ENVIRONMENT INTERACT TO SHAPE A DIVERSE ARTHROPOD COMMUNITY ON EVENING PRIMROSE (OENOTHERA BIENNIS). Ecology, 86(4), 874–885.
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