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      Soil Microarthropods and Their Relationship to Higher Trophic Levels in the Pedregal de San Angel Ecological Reserve, Mexico

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          Soil fauna is essential for ecosystem dynamics as it is involved in biogeochemical processes, promotes nutrient availability, and affects the animal communities associated with plants. In this study, we examine the possible relationship between the soil microarthropod community on foliage production and quality of the shrub Pittocaulon praecox. We also examine the arthropods associated to its foliage, particularly the size of the main herbivores and of their natural enemies, at two sites with contrasting vegetation cover and productivity. The diversity of soil microarthropods was assessed from soil samples collected monthly under P. praecox individuals over 13 mo. Specimens collected were identified to species or morphospecies. Shrub foliage productivity was evaluated through the amount of litter produced. Resource quality was assessed by the mean content (percentage by weight) of N, C, S, and P of 30 leaves from each shrub. The mean size of herbivores and their natural enemies were determined by measuring 20 adult specimens of each of the most abundant species. We found a higher species richness of soil microarthropods and foliar arthropods in the open site, although the diversity of foliage arthropods was lower in the closed site. Shrubs growing in the closed site tend to produce more, larger, and nutritionally poorer (lower nitrogen content) leaves than open site. Herbivores and their natural enemies were also larger in the closed site. We found a significant positive relationship between the diversity and species richness of foliar arthropods and the nitrogen content of leaves. In general, species richness and diversity of both the foliar and soil fauna, as well as the size of organisms belonging to higher trophic levels, were affected by vegetation cover and primary productivity at each site. These findings highlight the need to simultaneously consider at least four trophic levels (soil organisms, plants, herbivores, and natural enemies) to better understand the functioning of these systems and their responses to environmental changes.

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          Ecological linkages between aboveground and belowground biota.

          All terrestrial ecosystems consist of aboveground and belowground components that interact to influence community- and ecosystem-level processes and properties. Here we show how these components are closely interlinked at the community level, reinforced by a greater degree of specificity between plants and soil organisms than has been previously supposed. As such, aboveground and belowground communities can be powerful mutual drivers, with both positive and negative feedbacks. A combined aboveground-belowground approach to community and ecosystem ecology is enhancing our understanding of the regulation and functional significance of biodiversity and of the environmental impacts of human-induced global change phenomena.
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            Host plant quality and fecundity in herbivorous insects.

            Host plant quality is a key determinant of the fecundity of herbivorous insects. Components of host plant quality (such as carbon, nitrogen, and defensive metabolites) directly affect potential and achieved herbivore fecundity. The responses of insect herbivores to changes in host plant quality vary within and between feeding guilds. Host plant quality also affects insect reproductive strategies: Egg size and quality, the allocation of resources to eggs, and the choice of oviposition sites may all be influenced by plant quality, as may egg or embryo resorption on poor-quality hosts. Many insect herbivores change the quality of their host plants, affecting both inter- and intraspecific interactions. Higher-trophic level interactions, such as the performance of predators and parasitoids, may also be affected by host plant quality. We conclude that host plant quality affects the fecundity of herbivorous insects at both the individual and the population scale.
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              Consumer-resource body-size relationships in natural food webs.

              It has been suggested that differences in body size between consumer and resource species may have important implications for interaction strengths, population dynamics, and eventually food web structure, function, and evolution. Still, the general distribution of consumer-'resource body-size ratios in real ecosystems, and whether they vary systematically among habitats or broad taxonomic groups, is poorly understood. Using a unique global database on consumer and resource body sizes, we show that the mean body-size ratios of aquatic herbivorous and detritivorous consumers are several orders of magnitude larger than those of carnivorous predators. Carnivorous predator-prey body-size ratios vary across different habitats and predator and prey types (invertebrates, ectotherm, and endotherm vertebrates). Predator-prey body-size ratios are on average significantly higher (1) in freshwater habitats than in marine or terrestrial habitats, (2) for vertebrate than for invertebrate predators, and (3) for invertebrate than for ectotherm vertebrate prey. If recent studies that relate body-size ratios to interaction strengths are general, our results suggest that mean consumer-resource interaction strengths may vary systematically across different habitat categories and consumer types.

                Author and article information

                1Ecología Vegetal, Departamento de Botánica, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, México DF, México
                2Ecología y Sistemática de Microartrópodos, Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, México
                3Ecología de Artrópodos en Ambientes Extremos, UMDI-Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Juriquilla. Universidad Nacional Autóma de México, Querétaro, México
                Author notes
                4Corresponding author, e-mail: gabycast99@

                Subject Editor: Philippe Usseglio-Polatera

                J Insect Sci
                J. Insect Sci
                Journal of Insect Science
                Oxford University Press
                15 May 2015
                : 15
                : 1
                25978999 4535492 10.1093/jisesa/iev039 iev039
                © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Entomological Society of America.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

                Pages: 9


                diversity, herbivores, multitrophic interactions, natural enemies


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