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Simple attributes predict the importance of plants as hosts to the richness of fungi and arthropods

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Consumers constitute the vast majority of global terrestrial biodiversity. Yet, local consumer richness is poorly understood. Plant species richness offers a simple hypothesis to how the diversification of carbon substrates may promote the diversity of arthropods and fungi. We took this one step further and used databases on plant-consumer interaction links to derive the richness of associated biota per plant species (link score). Using a species inventory of 130 sites we investigated 1) how well the link score could be predicted by plant attributes and 2) if the sum of plant species’ observed or predicted link scores could predict site richness of arthropods and macrofungi better than plant species richness alone. We found plant link scores to be positively related to plant size, abundance, nativeness and ectomycorrhizal status. Link based indices generally improved prediction of richness, stressing the importance of plants as niche space for the megadiverse groups of insects and fungi.
Original languageEnglish
JournalbioRxiv
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

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