Plant genetics shapes inquiline community structure across spatial scales




Recent research in community genetics has examined the effects of intraspecific genetic variation on species diversity in local communities. However, communities can be structured by a combination of both local and regional processes and to date, few community genetics studies have examined whether the effects of instraspecific genetic variation are consistent across levels of diversity. In this study, we ask whether host-plant genetic variation structures communities of arthropod inquilines within distinct habitat patches – rosette leaf galls on tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima). We found that genetic variation determined inquiline diversity at both local and regional spatial scales, but that trophic-level responses varied independently of one another. This result suggests that herbivores and predators likely respond to heritable plant traits at different spatial scales. Together, our results show that incorporating spatial scale is essential for predicting the effects of genetically variable traits on different trophic levels and levels of diversity within the communities that depend on host plants.