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A random survival forest illustrates the importance of natural enemies compared to host plant quality on leaf beetle survival rates
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0130-6485
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6362-6199
Number of Authors: 22018 (English)In: BMC Ecology, ISSN 1472-6785, E-ISSN 1472-6785, Vol. 18, article id 33Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Wetlands are habitats where variation in soil moisture content and associated environmental conditions can strongly affect the survival of herbivorous insects by changing host plant quality and natural enemy densities. In this study, we combined natural enemy exclusion experiments with random survival forest analyses to study the importance of local variation in host plant quality and predation by natural enemies on the egg and larval survival of the leaf beetle Galerucella sagittariae along a soil moisture gradient.

Results: Our results showed that the exclusion of natural enemies substantially increased the survival probability of G. sagittariae eggs and larvae. Interestingly, the egg survival probability decreased with soil moisture content, while the larval survival probability instead increased with soil moisture content. For both the egg and larval survival, we found that host plant height, the number of eggs or larvae, and vegetation height explained more of the variation than the soil moisture gradient by itself. Moreover, host plant quality related variables, such as leaf nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus content did not influence the survival of G. sagittariae eggs and larvae.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the soil moisture content is not an overarching factor that determines the interplay between factors related to host plant quality and factors relating to natural enemies on the survival of G. sagittariae in different microhabitats. Moreover, the natural enemy exclusion experiments and the random survival forest analysis suggest that natural enemies have a stronger indirect impact on the survival of G. sagittariae offspring than host plant quality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 18, article id 33
Keywords [en]
Galerucella sagittariae, Host selection, Leaf nutrients, Natural enemy, Oviposition, Parasitism, Predation, Random survival forest, Wetlands
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161094DOI: 10.1186/s12898-018-0187-7ISI: 000444517600002PubMedID: 30200936OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161094DiVA, id: diva2:1259807
Available from: 2018-10-31 Created: 2018-10-31 Last updated: 2018-10-31Bibliographically approved

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