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Plant genotype influences aquatic-terrestrial ecosystem linkages through timing and composition of insect emergence

Compson, Zacchaeus G and Hungate, Bruce A and Whitham, Thomas G and Meneses, Nashelly and Busby, Posy E and Wojtowicz, Todd and Ford, Audrey C and Adams, Kenneth J and Marks, Jane C (2016) Plant genotype influences aquatic-terrestrial ecosystem linkages through timing and composition of insect emergence. Ecosphere, 7 (5). ISSN 2150-8925

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Terrestrial leaf litter provides aquatic insects with an energy source and habitat structure,and species differences in litter can influence aquatic insect emergence. Emerging insects also provide energy to riparian predators. We hypothesized that plant genetics would influence the composition and timing of emerging insect communities among individual genotypes of Populus angustifolia varying in litter traits. We also compared the composition and timing of emerging insect communities on litter from mixed genotypes of three cross types of a hybridizing cottonwood complex: P. angustifolia, P. fremontii, and their F1 hybrids. Using litter harvested from an experimental common garden, we measured emerging insect community composition, abundance, and production for 12 weeks in large litter packs affixed with emergence traps. Five major findings emerged. (1) In support of the genetic similarity hypothesis, we found that, among P. angustifolia tree genotypes, litter from more closely related genotypes had more similar litter thickness, nitrogen concentrations, decomposition rates, and emerging insect communities. (2) Genetic similarity was not correlated with other litter traits, although the litter fungal community was a strong predictor of emerging insect communities. (3) Litter decomposition rate, which was the strongest predictor of emerging aquatic insect communities, was influenced by litter thickness, litter N, and the litter fungal community. (4) In contrast to strong community composition differences among P. angustifolia genotypes, differences in community composition between P. fremontii and P. angustifolia were only marginally significant, and communities on F1 hybrids were indistinguishable from P. angustifolia despite genetic and litter trait differences. (5) Mixed litter packs muted the genetic effects observed in litter packs con- sisting of single genotypes. These results demonstrate that the genetic structure of riparian forests can affect the composition and timing of aquatic insect emergence. Because many riparian trees are clonal, including P. angustifolia, large clone size is likely to result in patches of genetically structured leaf litter that may influence the timing and composition of insect emergence within watersheds. Riparian restoration efforts incorporating different tree genotypes could also influence the biodiversity of emerging aquatic insects. Our work illustrates the importance of plant genes for community and ecosystem processes in riparian corridors.

Item Type: Article
ID number or DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1331
Keywords: aquatic insect communities; common garden; genetic similarity hypothesis; genotypes; headwater stream; hybrids; insect emergence; leaf litter; Oak Creek, Arizona; Populus angustifolia; Populus fremontii; secondary production
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Faculty/Staff
Department/Unit: College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science > Biological Sciences
Research Centers > Center for Ecosystem Science and Society
Research Centers > Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2017 16:56
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/2907

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