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Evolution of Rose Gall Tritrophic Communities

Project description

Impact of plant traits on tritrophic communities

Tritrophic communities comprising plants, insect herbivores and associated parasitoids make up over half of all described species. The EU-funded RoseTriComm project will determine if plant traits influence the diversification and assemblage structure of natural enemies and whether natural enemies exert their own "top-down" effects on herbivore diversification and assemblage structure. Researchers will seek to answer these key questions by analysing an unparalleled data set that combines trophic interaction, trait and phylogenomic data for roses, rose gall wasps and parasitoids from North America and Europe. The innovative research conducted by RoseTriComm is the first application of the co-phylogeny framework to a large-scale tritrophic system, examining the role of traits in structuring interactions in a multicontinental context.

Objective

Tritrophic communities of plants, insect herbivores and associated parasitoid natural enemies together comprise more than 50% of all described species, including both beneficial ecosystem service providers and major economic pests. A key aim in ecology is to understand the processes that form this spectacular diversity and its complex interactions. This project (RoseTriComm) aims to answer two key questions: (a) Do plant traits also influence the diversification and assemblage structure of natural enemies? (b) Do natural enemies exert their own ‘top-down’ effects on herbivore diversification and assemblage structure? Our approach will assess the support for these alternative paradigms using an unparalleled dataset that combines trophic interaction, trait and phylogenomic data for plants (roses, 80 species), herbivores (rose gall wasps, 50 species), and parasitoids (ca. 100 species) from North America and Europe. This innovative research is the first application of the co-phylogeny framework to a large scale tritrophic system, examining the role of traits in structuring interactions in a multicontinental context. Furthermore, RoseTriComm will allow us to develop an analytical framework that can be applied to understanding any tritrophic system’s diversity and assemblage structure. The ability to anticipate the cascading impacts of species gains or losses, is more important than ever when biodiversity is increasingly vulnerable to threats such as climatic change. Finally, RoseTriComm will contribute to train and strengthen the fellow’s research skills in project management and grant writing, expand his network of collaborators, produce high-impact publications, and enable research dissemination via conference communications and public outreach.

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Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
Address
Old college, south bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

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Region
Scotland Eastern Scotland Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00