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Arthropods in Old-Field Plant Communities at Bayles Road


Jennifer A. Rudgers (Rice University), Keith Clay (Indiana University), and research assistants collected 652 arthropod specimens from designated plots at the IU Research and Teaching Preserve Bayles Road property in 2006. Fifteen orders of arthropods were identified. This information provides some idea of insect and spider species that might be found in old-field communities and fescue grasslands in the lower midwestern United States. A recent publication resulting from these data is linked below.


Orders found at Bayles Road


List of arthropod species (PDF) found at Bayles Road in 2006. Categorized by order and family.


An invasive plant-fungal mutualism reduces arthropod diversity
Jennifer A. Rudgers and Keith Clay
Ecology Letters (2008) 11: 831-840

Ecological theory holds that competition and predation are the most important biotic forces affecting the composition of communities. Here, we expand this framework by demonstrating that mutualism can fundamentally alter community and food web structure. In large, replicated field plots, we manipulated the mutualism between a dominant plant (Lolium arundinaceum) and symbiotic fungal endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum). The presence of the mutualism reduced arthropod abundance up to 70%, reduced arthropod diversity nearly 20%, shifted arthropod species composition relative to endophyte-free plots and suppressed the biomass and richness of other plant species in the community. Herbivorous arthropods were more strongly affected than carnivores, and for both herbivores and carnivores, effects of the mutualism appeared to propagate indirectly via organisms occurring more basally in the food web. The influence of the mutualism was as great or greater than previously documented effects of competition and predation on arthropod communities. Our work demonstrates that a keystone mutualism can significantly reduce arthropod biodiversity at a broad community scale.

Download article (PDF).


Revised: February 16, 2010


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