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Landscape structure, dispersal and the evolution of antagonistic plant–herbivore interactions


  • Eduardo de la Peña,

  • Bram D'hondt,

  • Dries Bonte

E. de la Peña (, B. D'hondt and D. Bonte, Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Dept of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Ghent Univ., K.L. Legeganckstraat 35, BE-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Different species have different dispersal capabilities and in the field, species interact with each other within dynamic, heterogeneous and complex landscapes. While plants and certain herbivore species may disperse considerable distances by means of seed dispersal or flight, other herbivores (e.g. root-feeding nematodes or non-winged insect herbivores) are more limited in their dispersal capacities. This difference in dispersal capabilities results in mosaics of plant–herbivore interactions that shift over time and space leading to spatio-temporal variation in both the presence and absence of the species and their interactions. We developed an individual based simulation model in which we examined how multi-species interactions are affected by their mobility within structurally complex landscapes. The main objective was to address the consequences for the arms race between plant defence and herbivore resistance to changes in fundamental landscape and community attributes. We demonstrate that feedbacks between landscape structure, community structure and the specific dispersal rate of the species involved affect the evolutionary dynamics between plants and herbivore antagonists. While three-species interactions result in increased plant defence and herbivore resistance, effects of dispersal have diverse effects depending on the prevailing landscape structure.