Insects and light interact to mediate vine colonization of fast growing Microberlinia bisulcata tree seedlings in gaps of an African rain forest

Norghauer, Julian M. (2020). Insects and light interact to mediate vine colonization of fast growing Microberlinia bisulcata tree seedlings in gaps of an African rain forest. Biotropica, 52(1), pp. 59-69. Wiley 10.1111/btp.12727

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Vines thrive in lowland tropical forests, yet the biotic factors underlying their colonization of host tree seedlings and saplings remain surprisingly understudied. Insect herbivores presumably could influence this process, especially where disturbance has opened the canopy (i.e., gaps)-temporary areas of higher primary productivity favoring the recruitment of vines and trees and invertebrates in forests-but their impact on vine colonization has never been experimentally tested. Using data from an insect herbivore exclusion (mesh-netting cages) experiment conducted in an African rain forest (Korup, Cameroon), I logistically modeled the probability of vines colonizing seedlings of three co-dominant species (Microberlinia bisulcata vs. Tetraberlinia bifoliolata and T. korupensis) in paired shaded understory and sunny gap locations (41 blocks across 80 ha, starting n = 664 seedlings) in a 1-2-yr period (2008-2009). Vine colonization occurred almost exclusively in gaps, occurring on 16% of seedlings there. Excluding herbivores in gaps doubled colonization of the light-demanding and faster growing M. bisulcata but had negligible effects on the two shade-tolerant, slower growing and less palatable Tetraberlinia species, which together were twice as susceptible to vines under natural forest gap conditions (controls). When protected from herbivores in gaps, more light to individual seedlings strongly increased vine colonization of M. bisulcata whereas its well-lit control individuals supported significantly fewer vines. These results suggest vines preferably colonize taller seedlings, and because light-demanding tree species grow faster in height with more light, they are more prone to being colonized in gaps; however, insect herbivores can mediate this process by stunting fast growing individuals so that colonization rates becomes more similar between co-occurring slow and fast growing tree species. Further influencing this process might be associational resistance or susceptibility to herbivores linked to host species' leaf traits conferring shade-tolerant ability as seedlings or saplings. A richer understanding of how vines differentially influence forest regeneration and species composition may come from investigating vine-tree-herbivore interactions across light gradients, ideally via long-term studies and intercontinental comparisons. in French is available with online material.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Library Plant Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Norghauer, Julian Martin

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0006-3606

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

07 Jan 2020 14:38

Last Modified:

03 Feb 2020 07:10

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/btp.12727

Uncontrolled Keywords:

forest ecology, gap-phase regeneration, herbivory, plant–insect interactions, light-demanding tree species, treefall gaps, tropical forest, vines

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.137025

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/137025

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