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Intraspecific variation in plant-associated herbivore communities is phylogenetically structured in Brassicaceae
Ecology Letters  (IF9.492),  Pub Date : 2021-07-30, DOI: 10.1111/ele.13852
Daan Mertens, Klaas Bouwmeester, Erik H. Poelman

As a result of co-evolution between plants and herbivores, related plants often interact with similar herbivore communities. Variation in plant–herbivore interactions is determined by variation in underlying functional traits and by ecological and stochastic processes. Hence, typically, only a subset of possible interactions is realised on individual plants. We show that insect herbivore communities assembling on individual plants are structured by plant phylogeny among 12 species in two phylogenetic lineages of Brassicaceae. This community sorting to plant phylogeny was retained when splitting the community according to herbivore feeding guilds. Relative abundance of herbivores as well as the size of the community structured community dissimilarity among plant species. Importantly, the amount of intraspecific variation in realised plant–herbivore interactions is also phylogenetically structured. We argue that variability in realised interactions that are not directly structured by plant traits is ecologically relevant and must be considered in the evolution of plant defences.