Data from: Root herbivory indirectly affects above- and belowground community members and directly reduces plant performance

  • Nicholas A. Barber (Contributor)
  • Nelson J. Milano (Contributor)
  • Toby Kiers (Contributor)
  • Nina Theis (Contributor)
  • Vanessa Bartolo (Contributor)
  • Ruth V. Hazzard (Contributor)
  • Lynn S. Adler (Contributor)



1.There is widespread recognition that above- and below-ground organisms are linked through their interactions with host plants that span terrestrial subsystems. In addition to direct effects on plants, soil organisms such as root herbivores can indirectly alter interactions between plants and other community members, with potentially important effects on plant growth and fitness. 2. We manipulated root herbivory by Acalymma vittatum in Cucumis sativus to determine indirect effects on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, leaf herbivory, the leaf pathogen downy mildew, and pollinators. We also manipulated pollen receipt by plants to determine if root herbivory reduced plant reproduction through changes in pollinator visitation. 3. Overall, root herbivory had strong net negative effects on plant growth and fitness, with 34% reductions in both leaf and fruit production by high root damage levels relative to control, despite reduced infection by downy mildew. High root herbivory also reduced floral visitation by 39%, apparently due to lower flower production, as flower size and scent were unaffected. Above-ground herbivory was not affected by root herbivores. 4. Although root herbivory reduced pollinator visits, pollen receipt manipulations had no effect on fruit set, indicating that reduced pollinator service did not affect plant reproduction. 5. Synthesis. Root herbivory had indirect effects on a range of community members, including mutualists and antagonists both above- and below-ground. Although reduced pathogen infection associated with root herbivory would be expected to benefit plants, root herbivory had an overall strong negative effect on plant growth and reproduction, indicating that direct negative effects over-rode any potential indirect benefits.,Treatments and field dataData were collected in 2012. Petal length and width measurements are in mm; downy mildew score was a 0–5 scale based on the percentage of leaves infected (0 = 0%, 1 = 1–25%, 2 = 25–50%, 3 = 50–75%, and 4 = 75–100%); flowers_observed is the total number of flowers open on days when pollinator surveys took place; pieris_proportion_visited and honeybee_proportion_visited are the proportion of flowers probed based on the total number of flowers open on days when surveys took place; pieris_probeduration and honeybee_probeduration are reported in seconds.cuke2012_fielddata.csvArbuscular mycorrhizal fungi dataMeasurements reported are the percentage of root intercepts that contained no fungal structures ("none"), hyphae, arbuscules, or vesicles.cuke2012_AMFdata.csvFloral volatiles dataConcentrations of floral volatiles from Cucumis sativus flowers. Values are ng/g/hr. Scores for first three axes of principal components analyses are also included.cuke2012_volatilesdata.csv,
Date made available1 Nov 2015
PublisherUnknown Publisher

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