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Ecología austral

On-line version ISSN 1667-782X

Abstract

ALTMANN, Scott H. Insect folivore damage in Nothofagus Blume trees of central Chile and its association with bottom-up plant community attributes. Ecol. austral [online]. 2011, vol.21, n.2, pp. 121-133. ISSN 1667-782X.

The study of insect folivore damage in South American Nothofagus spp. is important for monitoring the health of these trees and for basic research, although empirical information is scarce. Previous evidence on N. macrocarpa (A.DC.) F.M. Vásquez and R.A. Rodr, and N. glauca (Phil.) Krasser trees of central Chile suggested that insect folivore damage in these species can be intense and here I explored damage levels of the two species and their relationship with bottom-up community attributes such as plant architecture, light availability and host age. Foliage samples were collected at fi ve fi eld sites at the end of the 2007-2008 productive season in trees of N. macrocarpa and N. glauca and damage was measured based on lamina removal (complete absence of lamina) and lamina necrosis, and then analzyed statistically in terms of lamina removal and folivore damage (lamina removal and necrosis). Data for N. macrocarpa were divided into two groups based on fi eld site elevation (high and low) whereas data for N. glauca corresponded strictly to low elevation sites. N. macrocarpa of lower elevation sites (low) had greater lamina removal and folivore damage than N. glauca and greater folivore damage than in individuals of N. macrocarpa (high). N. macrocarpa (low) associated with a lower aerial vegetative cover (and presumably more exposed to sun light) had greater lamina removal than individuals associated with a greater aerial vegetative cover (and presumably less exposed to sun light). Nothofagus glauca foliage with greater sun exposure showed greater lamina removal than that corresponding to lower sun exposure, and this pattern was marginally similar for N. macrocarpa (low). Lamina removal of N. macrocarpa (low) was positively correlated with leaf thinness (leaf length-width ratio) at the branch level. Finally, N. macrocarpa (low) juvenile trees had greater lamina removal than more mature trees.

Keywords : Nothofagus macrocarpa; N. glauca; Plant-insect herbivore interaction; Foliage production; Plant architecture; Light availability; Leaf "thinness".

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