Richness and species composition of arboreal arthropods affected by nutrients and predators: a press experiment

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2006

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Gruner, D. S., and A. D. Taylor. 2006. Richness and species composition of arboreal arthropods affected by nutrients and predators: a press experiment. Oecologia 147:714-724

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A longstanding goal for ecologists is to understand the processes that maintain biological diversity in communities, yet few studies have investigated the combined effects of predators and resources on biodiversity in natural ecosystems. We fertilized nutrient limited plots and excluded insectivorous birds in a randomized block design, and examined the impacts on arthropods associated with the dominant tree in the Hawaiian Islands, Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae). After 33 mo, the species load (per foliage mass) of herbivores and carnivores increased with fertilization, but rarified richness (standardized to abundance) did not change. Fertilization depressed species richness of arboreal detritivores, and carnivore richness dropped in caged, unfertilized plots, both because of the increased dominance of common, introduced species with treatments. Herbivore species abundance distributions were more equitable than other trophic levels following treatments, and fertilization added specialized native species without changing relativized species richness. Overall, bird removal and nutrient addition treatments on arthropod richness acted largely independently, but with countervailing influences that obscured distinct top-down and bottom-up effects on different trophic levels. This study demonstrates that species composition, biological invasions, and the individuality of species traits may complicate efforts to predict the interactive effects of resources and predation on species diversity in food webs.

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