Relationship between leaf traits, insect communities and resource availability
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:49 authored by Emma Laxton
This project used the resource availability hypothesis (Coley et al., 1985) as a framework for investigating the relationship between resource availability (as defined by soil nutrients), leaf traits, insect herbivore damage and insect community structure. According to the hypothesis, plants from low resource environments should be better-defended, have longer leaf lifespans and slower growth rates than plants from higher resource environments. Higher resource plant species are expected to suffer higher levels of herbivory and recover faster from herbivory than low resource plant species (Coley et al. 1985). A corollary to this hypothesis is that plants from higher resource sites should support greater densities of insect herbivores than low resource species. Comparisons between high and low resource sites were made in terms of: (i) leaf traits of mature and immature leaves; (ii) phenology of leaf maturation; (iii) herbivore damage in the field and laboratory; (iv) diversity and abundance of herbivorous insect fauna; and (v) ability to recover from herbivory.