The role of herbivory by wood-boring insects in mangrove ecosystems in Belize

Feller, Ilka C. (2002) The role of herbivory by wood-boring insects in mangrove ecosystems in Belize. Oikos, 97 (2). pp. 167-176. ISSN 0030-1299

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    The roles wood-boring insects play in modifying mangrove ecosystems were examined on small, offshore mangrove islands in Belize. Several species of xylem- and phloem-feeding woodborers consume the wood of living mangrove trees. By girdling, pruning, and hollowing, woodborers killed over 50% of the Rhizophora mangle canopy in experimental plots arrayed across a tidal-elevation gradient. In contrast, leaf-feeding herbivores removed less than 6% of the canopy. In the plots, stem girdlers killed over three branches per tree. The patterns of herbivory by three functional feeding groups were heterogeneous and did not vary consistently with tidal elevation. Because R. mangle lacks viable axillary buds or the ability to produce epicormic shoots to replace pruned branches, the canopy architecture was significantly modified by this damage. The branches that were pruned by stem girdlers created numerous small holes or gaps in the mangrove canopy. Shoot growth and flowering increased in R. mangle trees with 50% of their branches experimentally girdled. Because branches and twigs attacked by woodborers lost their leaves prematurely as greenfall, the quantity and quality of leaf litter were altered when a leaf-bearing branch was girdled or hollowed. These changes suggest that wood-boring insects also significantly affect internal and external nutrient cycling processes in mangrove ecosystems.

    Item Type: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
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      Publisher: Nordic Ecological Society
      Keywords: herbivory, Belize, insects, mangrove, woodborers
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AE) Insects
      (A) Biodiversity > (AH) Plants
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3C) Other Universities
      Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2011 10:04
      Last Modified: 12 Dec 2011 10:04

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