Neighboring plants can influence arthropods on a focal plant and this can result in associational resistance or associational susceptibility. These effects can be mediated by above- and belowground interactions between the neighbor and focal plant, but determining the relative contribution of the above- and belowground effects remains an open challenge. We performed a common garden experiment with a design that enabled us to disentangle the above- and belowground effects of five different plant species on the growth and chemistry of the focal plant ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris), and the arthropod community associated to this plant. Aboveground effects of different neighboring plant species were more important for the growth and quality of J. vulgaris and for the arthropod abundance on this plant than belowground effects of neighbors. This remained true when only indirect neighbor effects (via affecting the biomass or quality of the focal plant) were considered. The aboveground neighbor effects on arthropod abundance on the focal plant were strongly negative. However, the magnitude of the effect depended on the identity of the neighboring species, and herbivore abundance on the focal plant was higher when surrounded by conspecific than by heterospecific plants. We also observed interactions between above- and belowground neighbor effects, indicating that these effects may be non-additive. We conclude that above- and belowground associational effects are not equally strong, and that neighbor effects on plant-arthropod interactions occur predominantly aboveground.
- soil feedback
- associational susceptibility
- vegetational diversity
Kos, M., Bukovinszky, T., Mulder, P. P. J., & Bezemer, T. M. (2015). Disentangling above- and belowground neighbor effects on the growth, chemistry and arthropod community on a focal plant. Ecology, 96(1), 164-175. https://doi.org/10.1890/14-0563.1