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Are psyllids affiliated with the threatened plants Acacia ausfeldii, A. dangarensis and A. gordonii at risk of co-extinction?

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Abstract

Secondary extinctions of dependent affiliate species may exceed the numbers of species directly extirpated with habitat loss. We investigated the host specificity, and hence the co-extinction risk, of multiple psyllid species (Hemiptera: Psylloidea) on the threatened plants Acacia ausfeldii, A. dangarensis and A. gordonii by sampling from these and other sympatric common plants across multiple sites, years and plant phenologies. We found one specialist psyllid species (Psyllidae: Acizzia sp.) on each of the plants A. ausfeldii and A. gordonii but no specialists on A. dangarensis. The A. gordonii specialist only occurred when its host was in flower. Specialist psyllids considered at risk of extinction represented 10% of all psyllid species observed on the three threatened acacias. Potential risks to co-endangered affiliates need to be considered when implementing threatened plant recovery actions. Conservation of plant populations and plant species diversity is also necessary to maintain high insect diversity.

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Ancillary