A4 Herbivore communities in the Andean mountain forest zone – comparisons within selected plant species along contrasting environmental dimensions [funded by DFG]


PI(s) for this project:


Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Konrad Fiedler

Abstract:

Herbivore communities in the Andean mountain forest zone – comparisons within selected plant species along contrasting environmental dimensions

Description:

We propose to investigate communities of caterpillars on selected focal plants along two environmental gradients with appropriate spatial and temporal replication. First, caterpillar assemblages on common understorey forest shrubs (Piper, Hedyosmum, Psychotria) shall be analyzed at three elevations (1000, 2000 & 3000 m, associated with the NUMEX experiment) to gain insight into species diversity, abundance, herbivore pressure, influence of natural enemies, and network diversity in insect-plant interactions, in a tropical mountain forest biodiversity hotspot. These data will be important for a better understanding of ecosystem function as well as for modelling the impact of climate change in tropical mountains. Second, we will study caterpillar communities on young treelets (e.g. Cedrela, Tabebuia, Heliocarpus) in experimental afforestations and compare these with the respective herbivore assemblages in natural forest. This will allow us to assess how much afforestations with native trees, even at an early age, contribute to support biodiversity on a higher trophic level. Collectively, these approaches are aimed to advance our understanding of the mechanisms that generate and maintain the extraordinary biodiversity of insects in Andean forests.


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