UBC Research Data

Data from: Herbarium specimens reveal increasing herbivory over the past century Meineke, Emily K.; Classen, Aimee T.; Sanders, Nathan J.; Davies, T. Jonathan


Predicting how ecological interactions will respond to global change is a major challenge. Plants and their associated insect herbivores compose much of macroscopic diversity, yet how their interactions have been altered by recent environmental change remains underexplored. To address this gap, we quantified herbivory on herbarium specimens of four plant species with records extending back 112 years. Our study focused on the northeastern US, where temperatures have increased rapidly over the last few decades. This region also represents a range of urban development, a form of global change that has shown variable effects on herbivores in the past studies. Herbarium specimens collected in the early 2000s were 23% more likely to be damaged by herbivores than those collected in the early 1900s. Herbivory was greater following warmer winters and at low latitudes, suggesting that climate warming may drive increasing insect damage over time. In contrast, human population densities were negatively associated with herbivore damage. To explore whether changes in insect occurrence or abundance might explain shifts in herbivory, we used insect observational records to build climate occupancy models for lepidopteran herbivores (butterflies and moths) of our focal plant species. These models show that higher winter temperatures were associated with higher probability of insect herbivore presence, while urbanization was associated with reduced probability of herbivore presence, supporting a link between insect herbivore occurrence and herbivory mediated through environment. Synthesis. Using a temporal record of plant herbivory that spans over a century, we show that both temperature and urbanization influence insect damage to plants, but in very different ways. Our results indicate that damage to plants by insect herbivores will likely continue to increase through time in the northeastern US as global temperatures rise, but that urbanization may disrupt local effects of winter warming on herbivory by excluding certain herbivores. These changes may scale to shape ecosystem processes that are driven by herbivory, including plant productivity.; Usage notes
Meinekeetal_2018_JOE_DryadsubmissionEach row in this file represents an herbarium specimen. For each specimen, associated herbivory data and climatic metadata are included.Meinekeetal._DRYAD_JOE_2018.xlsx

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