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Open AccessArticle

Superhost Plants Alter the Structure of Plant–Galling Insect Networks in Neotropical Savannas

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Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Montes Claros, MG 39401-089, Brazil
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Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade e Uso dos Recursos Naturais, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Montes Claros, MG 39401-089, Brazil
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Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Regional Jataí, Jataí, GO 75804-020, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(10), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8100369
Received: 2 September 2019 / Revised: 13 September 2019 / Accepted: 19 September 2019 / Published: 24 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Ecology)
Host plants may harbor a variable number of galling insect species, with some species being able to harbor a high diversity of these insects, being therefore called superhost plants. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the occurrence of superhost plant species of genus Qualea (Vochysiaceae) affects the structure of plant–galling insect ecological networks in Brazilian Cerrado. We sampled a total of 1882 plants grouped in 131 species and 43 families, of which 64 species and 31 families of host plants hosted 112 galling insect species. Our results showed that occurrence of superhosts of genus Qualea increased the linkage density of plant species, number of observed interactions, and the size of plant–galling insect networks and negatively affected the network connectance (but had no effect on the residual connectance). Although the occurrence of Qualea species did not affect the plant species richness, these superhosts increased the species richness and the number of interactions of galling insects. Our study represents a step forward in relation to previous studies that investigated the effects of plant diversity on the plant–insect networks, showing that few superhost plant species alter the structure of plant–herbivore networks, even without having a significant effect on plant diversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological networks; galling insects; host specificity; plant–insect interactions; Qualea ecological networks; galling insects; host specificity; plant–insect interactions; Qualea
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Araújo, W.S.; Moreira, L.T.; Falcão, L.A.D.; Borges, M.A.Z.; Fagundes, M.; Faria, M.L.; Guilherme, F.A.G. Superhost Plants Alter the Structure of Plant–Galling Insect Networks in Neotropical Savannas. Plants 2019, 8, 369.

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