Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (12): 23183.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023183

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Nested assemblages of aphid species in the Thousand Island Lake: The importance of island area and host plant diversity

Cai Chang1, Zhang Xue1(), Zhu Chen1(), Zhao Yuhao2,3(), Qiao Gexia4,5(), Ding Ping1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058
    2 Institute of Eco-Chongming, East China Normal University, Shanghai 202162
    3 Zhejiang Zhoushan Island Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Zhejiang Tiantong Forest Ecosystem National Observation and Research Station, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241
    4 Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    5 College of Life Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2023-06-04 Accepted:2023-08-19 Online:2023-12-20 Published:2023-10-08
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Aims: Nested subset pattern (nestedness) of species distributions is widespread in fragmented habitats. This study aims to explore the nested distribution pattern of aphid communities and the potential influencing mechanisms, including the effects of plant-aphid interaction and ant-aphid interaction on aphid community nesting structure, in the fragmented landscape of the Thousand Island Lake, China.

Methods: We surveyed aphid communities on 18 land-bridge islands from May to August in both 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, we surveyed host plant communities and mutualistic ant communities that have close interspecific interactions with aphid communities, along with integral plant communities in the aphid habitats. We analyzed the nestedness of the aphid communities and the integral plant communities by using NODF (nestedness metrics based on overlap and decreasing fill). We also used the random placement model to evaluate whether the passive sampling hypothesis played a major role in generating the nestedness of aphid communities. Moreover, we evaluated the role of island variables (island area and degree of isolation) in generating nestedness based on multiple linear regression. We also used the piecewise structural equation model to analyze the influence of island variables (island plant richness, host plant richness, and mutualistic ant richness) on the nestedness of aphid communities.

Results: (1) Aphid assemblages were significantly nested in the Thousand Island Lake; (2) The nestedness of aphids was not caused by passive sampling; (3) The nestedness of aphid communities had a significantly positive correlation with island area in the Thousand Island Lake, which supports the hypothesis of selective extinction. The nestedness of integral plant communities also supports the hypothesis of habitat nestedness; (4) The piecewise structural equation models showed that the diversity of host plants had a significant and positive influence on the nested ranking of aphid assemblages.

Conclusion: Our study showed that the nestedness of aphid communities in the Thousand Island Lake was driven by selective extinction and habitat nestedness, and the plant-aphid interaction, as an important intermediate factor, had a significantly direct effect on the nestedness. Therefore, the roles of interspecific interactions involving focus species should be fully considered when analyzing the underlying mechanism generating nested subset pattern.

Key words: island area, host plant, structural equation model, Thousand Island Lake, nested subset pattern, habitat fragmentation, aphid, interspecific interaction