Evol Ecol Res 5: 941-952 (2003)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Species richness on trees: a comparison of parasitic fungi and insects

Martin Brändle1* and Roland Brandl1,2

1Department of Animal Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Marburg, Karl-v.-Frisch-Str., D-35032 Marburg and  2Department of Community Ecology, UFZ Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle Ltd, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, D-06120 Halle, Germany

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: braendle@staff.uni-marburg.de


We collected data on the species richness of parasitic fungi occurring on tree genera native to Germany. We explore variations of species richness of parasitic fungi in relation to present abundance of trees (a measure of host distribution), tree height (a measure of host size), the number of congeneric tree species (a measure of host isolation) and post-glacial occurrence of trees (a measure of host age). We compare the patterns to those retrieved for phytophagous insects from the very same data set.

 In a univariate approach, we found only marginally significant relationships (P < 0.1) between species richness of parasitic fungi and present abundance of trees, tree height and the number of congeneric tree species. After controlling for phylogenetic relatedness among hosts, these relationships became significant. However, the explained variance was always very low. Irrespective of the type of analysis, post-glacial occurrence of trees showed no significant relationship with species richness of parasitic fungi. Hierarchical partitioning showed that present abundance of trees, tree height and the number of congeneric tree species are of about equal importance to explain species richness of parasitic fungi. This result contrasts with that for phytophagous insects. For phytophagous insects, the present abundance of hosts explained by far the largest amount of variance in species richness.

 The large and unexplained scatter around the species–area curve for parasitic fungi may be due to (1) idiosyncratic processes, (2) the composition of secondary metabolites among trees or (3) the co-occurrence of trees within habitats.

Keywords: insects, parasitic fungi, species–area relationship, species richness.

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