Effects of Tree Species Diversity on Insect Herbivory

Simon Morath


Simon Morath (2013) Effects of Tree Species Diversity on Insect Herbivory.

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It is generally believed that tree species growing in mixed forest stands are less susceptible to insect herbivore damage than if grown in monocultures, but previous studies have been largely observational and focussed mainly on tree species richness effects. In this thesis, I examined effects of three components of forest diversity (tree species richness, intraspecific genotypic diversity and functional diversity) on insect herbivores using three long-term forest diversity experiments in Finland and Germany. I have also explored the sources of variation in and the mechanisms behind the effects of tree diversity on insect herbivores. I found that all three components of forest diversity significantly influenced insect herbivore abundance and damage. Tree species richness effects depended on the insect herbivore feeding guild, but also changed within season and between years. As a result, silver birch (Betula pendula) experienced both associational resistance (reduced damage in mixed stands) and associational susceptibility (higher damage in mixed stands) to different insect herbivores and in some instances this altered temporally. In contrast, tree species richness effects on insect herbivory were spatially consistent and not mediated by tree size (physical apparency), physical properties of leaves or natural enemies. Interestingly, tree species richness and genotypic diversity had opposite effects on leaf miners; leaf miner abundance and species richness were lower in species-rich stands, but higher in mixtures containing several genotypes of silver birch. To test the effects of tree functional diversity, I created a functional diversity index based on constitutive emissions of monoterpenes and isoprene by different tree species and showed that tree species which emitted low levels of volatiles experienced associational resistance in stands with high diversity of volatile emissions. This suggests that increasing chemical complexity in mixed stands may interfere with host finding ability of herbivores.

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This is a Accepted version
This version's date is: 2013
This item is not peer reviewed

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Item TypeThesis (Doctoral)
TitleEffects of Tree Species Diversity on Insect Herbivory
AuthorsMorath, Simon

Deposited by Leanne Workman (UXYL007) on 02-Feb-2015 in Royal Holloway Research Online.Last modified on 05-Feb-2017


©2013 Simon Morath. Short sections of text, not to exceed two paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit permission provided that full credit including © notice, is given to the source.