Contrasting structures of plant–mite networks compounded by phytophagous and predatory mite species
Differences in the feeding habits between phytophagous and predatory species can determine distinct ecological interactions between mites and their host plants. Herein, plant–mite networks were constructed using available literature on plant-dwelling mites from Brazilian natural vegetation in order to contrast phytophagous and predatory mite networks. The structural patterns of plant–mite networks were described through network specialization (connectance) and modularity. A total of 187 mite species, 65 host plant species and 646 interactions were recorded in 14 plant–mite networks. Phytophagous networks included 96 mite species, 61 host plants and 277 interactions, whereas predatory networks contained 91 mite species, 54 host plants and 369 interactions. No differences in the species richness of mites and host plants were observed between phytophagous and predatory networks. However, plant–mite networks composed of phytophagous mites showed lower connectance and higher modularity when compared to the predatory mite networks. The present results corroborate the hypothesis that trophic networks are more specialized than commensalistic networks, given that the phytophagous species must deal with plant defenses, in contrast to predatory mites which only inhabit and forage for resources on plants.
KeywordsAcari Atlantic Forest Ecological networks Plant–mite interaction
The authors thank Mário Almeida-Neto (Universidade Federal de Goiás), Joaquín Calatayud (Umeå University) and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions, Leonardo Lima Bergamini (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) for assistance in network analysis, Erik Russell Wild (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) for English revision, and Edgar Luiz de Lima (Universidade Estadual de Goiás) for help with the database compilation. This work was supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Capes) under Grant [PNPD] to the first author.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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