Ecology and Evolution (2019) 9, 9040-9051

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Virginie Guyot, Hervé Jactel, Baptiste Imbaud, Laurent Burnel, Bastien Castagneyrol, Wilfried Heinz, Marc Deconchat and Aude Vialatte (2019)
Tree diversity drives associational resistance to herbivory at both forest edge and interior
Ecology and Evolution 9 (16), 9040-9051
Abstract: Tree diversity is increasingly acknowledged as an important driver of insect herbivory. However, there is still a debate about the direction of associational effects that can range from associational resistance (i.e., less damage in mixed stands than in monocultures) to the opposite, associational susceptibility. Discrepancies among published studies may be due to the overlooked effect of spatially dependent processes such as tree location within forests. We addressed this issue by measuring crown defoliation and leaf damage made by different guilds of insect herbivores on oaks growing among conspecific versus heterospecific neighbors at forest edges versus interior, in two closed sites in SW France forests. Overall, oaks were significantly less defoliated among heterospecific neighbors (i.e., associational resistance), at both forest edge and interior. At the leaf level, guild diversity and leaf miner herbivory significantly increased with tree diversity regardless of oak location within stands. Other guilds showed no clear response to tree diversity or oak location. We showed that herbivore response to tree diversity varied among insect feeding guilds but not between forest edges and interior, with inconsistent patterns between sites. Importantly, we show that oaks were more defoliated in pure oak plots than in mixed plots at both edge and forest interior and that, on average, defoliation decreased with increasing tree diversity from one to seven species. We conclude that edge conditions could be interacting with tree diversity to regulate insect defoliation, but future investigations are needed to integrate them into the management of temperate forests, notably by better understanding the role of the landscape context.
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Database assignments for author(s): Hervé Jactel

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