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Herbivory by Soil-Dwelling Insects Depresses Plant Species Richness

V. K. Brown and A. C. Gange
Functional Ecology
Vol. 3, No. 6 (1989), pp. 667-671
DOI: 10.2307/2389498
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2389498
Page Count: 5
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Abstract

The effect of soil-dwelling insect herbivores on early successional vegetation was investigated by means of a manipulative field experiment. The application of a soil insecticide (Dursban 5G) was used to reduce the natural levels of root herbivory in treatment plots and the number of plant species compared with those in control plots. Significantly more plant species established in insecticide-treated plots, with the perennial forbs showing the most marked difference. The effect increases with successional age. There was no difference in microsite availability between treatments; thus, the enhancement of plant species richness appears to be due to a reduction in predation of dormant seed, mortality after germination or during seedling establishment.

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