The Arthropod Seedpod Community Of Mesquite (Prosopis Spp.): What Allows Many Species To Coexist On A Single Resource?
AuthorFoldi, Steven Edward
AdvisorRosenzweig, Michael L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI studied the insect seed predator community on mesquite plants (Prosopis spp.) to investigate patterns of community composition in space and time, attempting to better understand the factors that led to the coexistence of many seed predator species on a single plant. This dissertation begins by testing the controversial species limits of Prosopis section Algarobía because hosts may act as environmental filters to insect seed predators. I found evidence for at least eight North American Prosopis species (section Algarobía). Second, I describe and add to the known natural history of 113 arthropod species among 315,174 individuals I collected from seedpod samples across the United States and Mexico. These samples included 187 trees from eight North American Prosopis species from section Algarobía and three from section Strombocarpa. Third, I examined reproductive timing in Prosopis and show that neighboring trees of the same species reproduce synchronously, whereas closely related species stagger reproduction. I found that photoperiod is the main cue that initiates flowering, but that multiple cues are involved. Thus, synchronous reproduction may act as an equalizing process that facilitates coexistence of seed predators in this system. Fourth, I tested for evidence of spatial and temporal niche partitioning among Prosopis seed predators. I found that the rank abundance of seed predators varies little over space and time, suggesting that this community exists in a homogeneous competitive environment. I also found that although a few species restrict the use of seeds to particular host plants or developmental stages of the pods, there is little evidence of niche partitioning. Finally, I looked for evidence of competition between seed predators and examined a number of factors that may allow for coexistence of these species. I found no evidence of interspecific competition or facilitation, suggesting that species somehow either avoid competition or that present patterns are the product of past competitive interactions. Natural enemies occur too sporadically to allow for apparent competition and I found no relationship between their occurrence or abundance and those of the seed predator species I studied. I found a positive correlation between rank abundance ability and fecundity, inconsistent with expectations of life-history or competitive-colonization trade-offs. Therefore, the only stabilizing process consistent with patterns found in this system is the niche regeneration hypothesis. I found that one seed predator species lays eggs most often away from both interspecific and intraspecific competitors, a pattern consistent with active avoidance as a second equalizing process within this system.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology