Insect herbivory and dispersal plasticity in a wind-dispersed plant fromheterogeneous landscapes

01 December 2010 → 30 November 2013
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal biology
Project description

Habitat fragmentation and herbivory jointly act as important selection forces in plant communities, affecting fitness within and among populations. The distribution and spatial dynamics of plants and herbivores depend on their dispersal ability, which is largely shaped by the prevailing landscape structure. Although investments in increased emigration traits should benefit plants to escape from locations with high herbivore pressure, opposing forces due to the costs of settlement or transfer may induce constrains on this conditional strategy. Selection among and within plant-metapopulations may therefore shape dispersal traits. I here propose a research project aiming to understand how the combined effect of landscape structure and herbivore pressure affects conditional strategies of plant dispersal and establishment. I will (1) study how seed production and dispersal of plants, herbivore pressure and landscape measures are related; (2) test conditional dispersal strategies of wind dispersing plants according to the prevailing landscape structure and herbivore pressure at the plant metapopulation- and population-level (3) verify the settlement cost in different scenario’s by investigation of establishment success. Emerging dynamics will in parallel be explored by theoretical approaches and extended to more complex plant-herbivore metacommunities (4).