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Top-down and bottom-up diversity cascades in detrital vs. living food webs


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Apex predators and plant resources are both critical for maintaining diversity in biotic communities, but the indirect (‘cascading’) effects of top-down and bottom-up forces on diversity at different trophic levels are not well resolved in terrestrial systems. Manipulations of predators or resources can cause direct changes of diversity at one trophic level, which in turn can affect diversity at other trophic levels. The indirect diversity effects of resource and consumer variation should be strongest in aquatic systems, moderate in terrestrial systems, and weakest in decomposer food webs. We measured effects of top predators and plant resources on the diversity of endophytic animals in an understorey shrub Piper cenocladum (Piperaceae). Predators and resource availability had significant direct and indirect effects on the diversity of the endophytic animal community, but the effects were not interactive, nor were they consistent between living vs. detrital food webs. The addition of fourth trophic level beetle predators increased diversity of consumers supported by living plant tissue, whereas balanced plant resources (light and nutrients) increased the diversity of primary through tertiary consumers in the detrital resources food web. These results support the hypotheses that top-down and bottom-up diversity cascades occur in terrestrial systems, and that diversity is affected by different factors in living vs. detrital food webs.