Phylogenetic trophic specialization

a robust comparison of herbivorous guilds

Leonardo R. Jorge, Vojtech Novotny, Simon T. Segar, George D Weiblen, Scott E. Miller, Yves Basset, Thomas M. Lewinsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Resource specialization is a key concept in ecology, but it is unexpectedly difficult to parameterize. Differences in resource availability, sampling effort and abundances preclude comparisons of incompletely sampled biotic interaction webs. Here, we extend the distance-based specialization index (DSI) that measures trophic specialization by taking resource phylogenetic relatedness and availability into account into a rescaled version, DSI*. It is a versatile metric of specialization that expands considerably the scope and applicability, hence the usefulness, of DSI. The new metric also accounts for differences in abundance and sampling effort of consumers, which enables robust comparisons among distinct guilds of consumers. It also provides an abundance threshold for the reliability of the metric for rare species, a very desirable property given the difficulty of assessing any aspect of rare species accurately. We apply DSI* to an extensive dataset on interactions between insect herbivores from four folivorous guilds and their host plants in Papua New Guinean rainforests. We demonstrate that DSI*, contrary to the original DSI, is largely independent of sample size and weakly and non-linearly related with several host specificity measures that do not adjust for plant phylogeny. Thus, DSI* provides further insights into host specificity patterns; moreover, it is robust to the number and phylogenetic diversity of plant species selected to be sampled for herbivores. DSI* can be used for a broad range of comparisons of distinct feeding guilds, geographical locations and ecological conditions. This is a key advance in elucidating the interaction structure and evolution of highly diversified systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-559
Number of pages9
JournalOecologia
Volume185
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Fingerprint

guild
host specificity
phylogenetics
phylogeny
herbivores
Geographical Locations
sampling
rain forests
host plants
ecology
insects
rare species
herbivore
comparison
index
resource availability
resource
relatedness
rainforest
host plant

Keywords

  • Distance-based specialization index (DSI*)
  • Host plant range
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Statistical comparability

Cite this

Jorge, L. R., Novotny, V., Segar, S. T., Weiblen, G. D., Miller, S. E., Basset, Y., & Lewinsohn, T. M. (2017). Phylogenetic trophic specialization: a robust comparison of herbivorous guilds. Oecologia, 185(4), 551-559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3980-7

Phylogenetic trophic specialization : a robust comparison of herbivorous guilds. / Jorge, Leonardo R.; Novotny, Vojtech; Segar, Simon T.; Weiblen, George D; Miller, Scott E.; Basset, Yves; Lewinsohn, Thomas M.

In: Oecologia, Vol. 185, No. 4, 01.12.2017, p. 551-559.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jorge, LR, Novotny, V, Segar, ST, Weiblen, GD, Miller, SE, Basset, Y & Lewinsohn, TM 2017, 'Phylogenetic trophic specialization: a robust comparison of herbivorous guilds', Oecologia, vol. 185, no. 4, pp. 551-559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3980-7
Jorge, Leonardo R. ; Novotny, Vojtech ; Segar, Simon T. ; Weiblen, George D ; Miller, Scott E. ; Basset, Yves ; Lewinsohn, Thomas M. / Phylogenetic trophic specialization : a robust comparison of herbivorous guilds. In: Oecologia. 2017 ; Vol. 185, No. 4. pp. 551-559.
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