Reverse latitudinal trends in species richness of pitcher-plant food webs

Authors


* E-mail: miller@bio.fsu.edu

Abstract

Latitudinal patterns in species richness have been well documented for guilds and individual trophic groups, but comparable patterns for entire, multitrophic communities have not been described. We studied the entire food web that inhabits the water-filled leaves of the pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea across North America at two spatial scales: among sites and among leaves within sites. Contrary to the expectation, total species richness at both scales increased with latitude, because of increasing species richness at the lower trophic levels. This latitudinal pattern may be driven by a top-down effect. The abundance of the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii, a ubiquitous top predator in this system, decreases from south to north and may permit greater species richness of prey trophic levels at higher latitudes.

Ancillary