Effects of forest edges on herbivory in a New Zealand mistletoe, Alepis flavida

  • Bach C
  • Kelly D
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Abstract

This study examined how forest edges influenced leaf and floral
herbivory, as well as seed predation, in a native New Zealand mistletoe
species, Alepis flavida. Plants growing on forest edges and in forest
interior were compared, and effects of plant size and the neighbouring
conspecific plant community were also examined. Leaf herbivory by
possums was significantly greater on forest edges than in forest
interior in a year of high possum damage, but not in a year with low
damage levels. Insect leaf herbivory did not differ between forest edges
and interior. Although equal numbers of plants on edges v. interior
experienced some floral damage by a specialist caterpillar, there were
significantly higher. levels of damage on plants growing in the forest
interior than on forest edges. Plants with floral damage were larger
than plants without damage, and distance to neighbouring mistletoe
plants was positively correlated with amount of floral damage, but only
for plants in the interior. Significantly greater numbers of plants on
edges than in the interior exhibited seed predation by the same
specialist caterpillar that caused floral damage, suggesting greater
fruit abortion rates in the interior. Amounts of seed damage were
inversely correlated with plant size. Forest edges had much stronger
effects on leaf herbivory by possums, as well as floral herbivory and
seed predation, than did plant size or the neighbouring plant community.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alepis flavida
  • Edge effect
  • Floral herbivory
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Leaf herbivory
  • Mistletoe
  • Possum
  • Seed predation
  • Trichosurus vulpecula

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Authors

  • Catherine E. Bach

  • Dave Kelly

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