Short-term seasonal habitat facilitation mediated by an insect herbivore

J. A. Harvey, P. J. Ode, Mima Malčická, R. Gols

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


In nature some organisms may facilitate others by creating shelter or other niches that they use for variable periods. We describe a natural tnultitrophic-species complex in the Netherlands involving a plant, the common hogweed (Heracteum sphondylium) a specialist chewing herbivore, the parsnip webworm (Depressaria pastinacella) and various arthropods associated with them. Larvae of D. pastinacella feed on H..sphondylium seeds and, after they have finished feeding, chew holes in the hollow stems where they pupate. In some areas of the country almost 50% of plants are attacked by webworms. The holes are used by other arthropods to gain access to the stems including herbivores, omnivores, predators and decomposers. The duration of plant occupancy varies between 3 and 4 months, until the plants die. Plants without moth-produced holes were always free of other arthropods, whereas plants with holes, in addition to pupae (and/or mummified-parasitized webworm larvae), often contained many woodlice, earwigs and/or spiders. Earwigs and woodlice perform important ecological functions as predators (in orchards) and decomposers respectively. Our results show that the simple biological activity of one herbivore species can have at least short-term effects on the local arthropod community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-454
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • national


Dive into the research topics of 'Short-term seasonal habitat facilitation mediated by an insect herbivore'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this