Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests

Mónica R. Carvalho, Peter Daniel Wilf, Héctor Barrios, Donald M. Windsor, Ellen D. Currano, Conrad C. Labandeira, Carlos A. Jaramillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fossil record demonstrates that past climate changes and extinctions significantly affected the diversity of insect leaf-feeding damage, implying that the richness of damage types reflects that of the unsampled damage makers, and that the two are correlated through time. However, this relationship has not been quantified for living leaf-chewing insects, whose richness and mouthpart convergence have obscured their value for understanding past and present herbivore diversity. We hypothesized that the correlation of leaf-chewing damage types (DTs) and damage maker richness is directly observable in living forests. Using canopy access cranes at two lowland tropical rainforest sites in Panamá to survey 24 host-plant species, we found significant correlations between the numbers of leaf chewing insect species collected and the numbers of DTs observed to be made by the same species in feeding experiments, strongly supporting our hypothesis. Damage type richness was largely driven by insect species that make multiple DTs. Also, the rank-order abundances of DTs recorded at the Panamá sites and across a set of latest Cretaceous to middle Eocene fossil floras were highly correlated, indicating remarkable consistency of feeding-mode distributions through time. Most fossil and modern host-plant pairs displayed high similarity indices for their leaf-chewing DTs, but informative differences and trends in fossil damage composition became apparent when endophytic damage was included. Our results greatly expand the potential of insect-mediated leaf damage for interpreting insect herbivore richness and compositional heterogeneity from fossil floras and, equally promisingly, in living forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere94950
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2014

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Mastication
Herbivory
mastication
Insects
herbivores
fossils
insects
leaves
Cranes
host plants
flora
Climate change
Climate Change
mouthparts
tropical rain forests
Forests
lowlands
extinction
Chemical analysis
climate change

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Carvalho, M. R., Wilf, P. D., Barrios, H., Windsor, D. M., Currano, E. D., Labandeira, C. C., & Jaramillo, C. A. (2014). Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests. PloS one, 9(5), [e94950]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094950
Carvalho, Mónica R. ; Wilf, Peter Daniel ; Barrios, Héctor ; Windsor, Donald M. ; Currano, Ellen D. ; Labandeira, Conrad C. ; Jaramillo, Carlos A. / Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests. In: PloS one. 2014 ; Vol. 9, No. 5.
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Carvalho, MR, Wilf, PD, Barrios, H, Windsor, DM, Currano, ED, Labandeira, CC & Jaramillo, CA 2014, 'Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests', PloS one, vol. 9, no. 5, e94950. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094950

Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests. / Carvalho, Mónica R.; Wilf, Peter Daniel; Barrios, Héctor; Windsor, Donald M.; Currano, Ellen D.; Labandeira, Conrad C.; Jaramillo, Carlos A.

In: PloS one, Vol. 9, No. 5, e94950, 02.05.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Carvalho MR, Wilf PD, Barrios H, Windsor DM, Currano ED, Labandeira CC et al. Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests. PloS one. 2014 May 2;9(5). e94950. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094950