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Patterns of phytophagous insect herbivory and abundance on juvenile regrowth of Eucalyptus subgenera coexisting in southeastern Tasmania
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 11:08 authored by Wotherspoon, KP
Eucalypts from the subgenus Monocalyptus tend to be more abundant and dominate species from the subgenus Symphyomyrtus where they occur together in the mixed species stands of southeastern Australia. The differential impacts of herbivory by phytophagous insects has been postulated as a causal mechanism in the creation and maintenance of such stands. This research aimed to quantify phytophagous insect abundance and herbivory in mixed species juvenile regrowth of Eucalyptus globulus, E. viminalis (Symphyomyrtus), E. obliqua and E. pulchella (Monocalyptus) southwest of Hobart, Tasmania. Monocalyptus experienced a higher level of herbivory than Symphyomyrtus. However, mean damage levels were relatively low at less than 11% throughout. Furthermore, due to the positively skewed nature of herbivory data the mean was an inappropriate measure of central tendency; median damage levels ranged from 4.9% to 8.4%. Patterns of herbivory tended to be different for each eucalypt species: E. obliqua was particularly prone to chewing damage, E. pulchella and E. globulus suffered higher levels of distortion while E. viminalis was least affected by insect attack. Even though some trends in insect community structure seemed apparent at the level of eucalypt subgenus, closer examination revealed patterns of abundance were characteristic of each Eucalyptus species. The composition of foliar damage corresponded with the prominence of particular insect groups. Sucking insects tended to dominate the fauna except on E. obliqua where chewing insects in general, and chrysomelids in particular, were most prevalent. Both the distribution and magnitude of herbivory suggested that phytophagous insects had a negligible effect on competition between coexisting juvenile eucalypts and were unlikely to be responsible for the dominance of Monocalyptus or the maintenance of mixed species stands.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Ecology
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
Place of publicationMelbourne