Herbivore-induced indirect interaction webs on terrestrial plants: the importance of non-trophic, indirect, and facilitative interactions

Authors


*Correspondence: E-mail: ohgushi@ecology.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Abstract

One of the most important issues in ecology is understanding the causal mechanisms that shape the structure of ecological communities through trophic interactions. The focus on direct, trophic interactions in much of the research to date means that the potential significance of non-trophic, indirect, and facilitative interactions has been largely ignored in traditional food webs. There is a growing appreciation of the community consequences of such non-trophic effects, and the need to start including them in food web research. This review highlights how non-trophic, indirect, and facilitative interactions play an important role in organizing the structure of plant-centered arthropod communities. I argue that herbivore-induced plant responses, insect ecosystem engineers, and mutualisms involving ant–honeydew-producing insects all generate interaction linkages among insect herbivores, thereby producing complex indirect interaction webs on terrestrial plants. These interactions are all very common and widespread on terrestrial plants, in fact they are almost ubiquitous, but these interactions have rarely been included in traditional food webs. Finally, I will emphasize that because the important community consequences of these non-trophic and indirect interactions have been largely unexplored, it is critical that indirect interaction webs should be the focus of future research.

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