DNA ‐based networks reveal the ecological determinants of plant–herbivore interactions along environmental gradients - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Molecular Ecology Year : 2022

DNA ‐based networks reveal the ecological determinants of plant–herbivore interactions along environmental gradients

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Abstract

Understanding the ecological rules structuring the organization of species interactions is a prerequisite to predicting how ecosystems respond to environmental changes. While the ecological determinants of single networks have been documented, it remains unclear whether network ecological rules are conserved along spatial and environmental gradients. To address this gap, we reconstructed 48 plant-herbivore interaction networks along six elevation gradients in the Central European Alps in Switzerland, using DNA metabarcoding on orthoptera faeces. We developed hypotheses on the ecological mechanisms expected to structure interaction networks, based on plant phylogeny, plant abundance, leaf toughness, leaf nitrogen content and plant metabolomics. We show that plant phylogenetic relationships and species abundance have the greatest explanatory power regarding the structure of the ecological networks. Moreover, we found that leaf nitrogen content is a key determinant of interactions in warmer environments, while phenolic compounds and tannins are more important in colder environments, suggesting that determinants of species interactions can shift along environmental gradients. With this work, we propose an approach to study the mechanisms that structure the way species interact with each other between bioregions and ecosystems.

Dates and versions

hal-03831375 , version 1 (26-10-2022)

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Camille Pitteloud, Emmanuel Defossez, Camille Albouy, Patrice Descombes, Sergio Rasmann, et al.. DNA ‐based networks reveal the ecological determinants of plant–herbivore interactions along environmental gradients. Molecular Ecology, In press, ⟨10.1111/mec.16545⟩. ⟨hal-03831375⟩

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