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The influence of shrub species and fine-scale plant density on arthropods in a semiarid shrubland

Kwok, Alan B. C., Eldridge, David J.
The Rangeland journal 2016 v.38 no.4 pp. 381-389
Cassia, Collembola, Hemiptera, Psocoptera, Psyllidae, arthropod communities, arthropods, community structure, ecosystems, habitats, hosts, plant density, shrublands, shrubs, turpentine, woodlands
Plant-resident arthropods are closely tied to the distribution of their hosts across multiple spatial scales. Shrubs provide habitat for a range of arthropods, and variations within shrubland ecosystems may affect arthropod communities. We examined the role of shrub species and density in structuring arthropod communities in an encroached Australian woodland using two common and widespread shrub species, Turpentine (Eremophila sturtii) and Silver Cassia (Senna artemisioides subsp. filifolia). We found five times more arthropods (Psocoptera, Collembola and Hemiptera) on Eremophila compared with Senna. Furthermore, Psyllidae were found only on Eremophila. In total we recorded 39 Hemipteran species; 13 from Eremophila, 16 from Senna and 10 common to both shrub species. Each shrub species supported a unique arthropod assemblage, even though they grow in close proximity (<15m). In contrast, we found limited effects of fine-scale plant density, with plants growing in low and high density supporting similar arthropod communities. Our study indicated that isolated shrubs in these woodlands support a variety of arthropods, and shrub species is a more important driver of arthropod community structure than fine-scale density.