Interplant variation in creosotebush foliage characteristics and canopy arthropods

TitleInterplant variation in creosotebush foliage characteristics and canopy arthropods
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsLightfoot DC, Whitford WG
Date Published1989
Accession NumberJRN00099
Call Number00178
Keywordsarthropod, Larrea, article, articles, journal, journals, Larrea, arthropods, Larrea, nitrogen, nitrogen, Larrea, phytophagous insect, plant-insect interactions

We conducted a field study to test the hypothesis that creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) shrubs growing in naturally nutrient-rich sites had better quality foliage and supported greater populations of foliage arthropods than shrubs growing in nutrient-poor sites. Nutrient-rich sites had significantly higher concentrations of soil nitrogen than nutrient-poor sites. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant differences between high nutrient and low nutrient shrubs based on a number of structural and chemical characteristics measured. High nutrient shrubs were larger, had denser foliage, greater foliage production, higher concentrations of foliar nitrogen and water, and lower concentrations of foliar resin than low nutrient shrubs. Numbers of foliage arthropods, particularly herbivores and predators, were significantly higher on high nutrient shrubs. Shrub characteristics and foliage arthropod abundances varied considerably from shrub to shrub. Shrub characteristics representing shrub size, foliage density, foliage growth, and foliar nitrogen and water concentrations were positively correlated with arthropod abundances. Foliar resin concentrations were negatively correlated with foliage arthropod abundances. The positive relationship between creosotebush productivity and foliage arthropods is contradictory to the tenet that physiologically stressed plants provide better quality foliage to insect herbivores.