Traits of litter‐dwelling forest arthropod predators and detritivores covary spatially with traits of their resources

Brousseau, Pierre‐Marc; Gravel, Dominique et Handa, I. Tanya (2019). « Traits of litter‐dwelling forest arthropod predators and detritivores covary spatially with traits of their resources ». Ecology, 100(10).

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The functional trait approach proposes that relating traits of organisms within a community to variation in abiotic and biotic characteristics of their environment will provide insight on the mechanisms of community assembly. As traits at a given trophic level might act as filters for the selection of traits at another trophic level, we hypothesized that traits of consumers and of their resources covary in space. We evaluated complementary predictions about top‐down (negative) and bottom‐up (positive) trait covariation in a detrital food web. Additionally, we tested whether positive trait covariation was better explained by the Resource Concentration Hypothesis (i.e., most commonly represented trait values attract abundant consumers) or the Resource Specialization Hypothesis (i.e., resource diversity increases niche availability for the consumers). Macroarthopods were collected with pitfall traps over two summers in three forested sites of southern Quebec in 110 plots that varied in tree species composition. Six feeding traits of consumers (detritivores and predators) and six palatability traits of their resources (leaf litter and prey) were matched to assess spatial covariation. Trait matches included consumer biting force/resource toughness, detritivore mandibular gape/leaf thickness, predator/prey body size ratio, etc. Our results demonstrate for the first time a covariation between feeding traits of detritivores and palatability traits of leaf litter (31–34%), and between feeding traits of litter‐dwelling predators and palatability traits of potential prey (38–44%). The observed positive covariation supports both the Resource Concentration Hypothesis and Resource Specialization Hypothesis. Spatial covariation of consumer and resource traits provides a new tool to partially predict the structure of the detrital food web. Nonetheless, top‐down regulation remains difficult to confirm. Further research on top‐down processes will be undoubtedly necessary to refine our capacity to interpret the effect of biotic interactions on co‐distribution.

Type: Article de revue scientifique
Mots-clés ou Sujets: co-distribution, food webs, functional traits, ground beetles, millipedes, Opiliones, spiders, trait matching, trophic interactions
Unité d'appartenance: Faculté des sciences > Département des sciences biologiques
Déposé par: Ira Tanya Handa
Date de dépôt: 15 nov. 2019 09:22
Dernière modification: 15 nov. 2019 09:22
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