Interactions between spatially separated herbivores indirectly alter plant diversity

J. Van Ruijven, G.B. De Deyn, C.E. Raaijmakers, F. Berendse, W.H. Van der Putten

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    Abstract

    Above- and belowground herbivores promote plant diversity when selectively feeding on dominant plant species, but little is known about their combined effects. Using a model system, we show that neutral effects of an aboveground herbivore and positive effects of a belowground herbivore on plant diversity became profoundly negative when adding these herbivores in combination. The non-additive effects were explained by differences in plant preference between the aboveground- and the belowground herbivores and their consequences for indirect interactions among plant species. Simultaneous exposure to aboveground- and belowground herbivores led to plant communities being dominated by a few highly abundant species. As above- and belowground invertebrate herbivores generally differ in their mobility and local distribution patterns, our results strongly suggest that abovegroundbelowground interactions contribute to local spatial heterogeneity of diversity patterns within plant communities. [KEYWORDS: Abovebelowground interactions ; indirect effects ; insect herbivores ; nematodes ; plant diversity]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-37
    JournalEcology Letters
    Volume8
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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