Questions: Are liana–host interactions structured at the community level? Do liana–host interactions differ between species, growth form guilds or habitats?
Location: Otari-Wilton's Bush, on the southern tip of North Island, New Zealand. The forest contains 75 ha of mature and regenerating conifer–broadleaf forest.
Methods: Nine liana species were quantified among 217 trees to test for negative co-occurrence patterns. We also conducted additional analyses within and among compartments embedded in the community-level matrix. Liana and host abundance distributions were assessed across two contrasting habitats.
Results: Community-level analyses revealed negative co-occurrence patterns. Positive, neutral and negative co-occurrence patterns were found among compartments within the community-level matrix. Host species compartments were consistent with randomized expectations, while positive co-occurrence patterns were found within the host species matrix. Negative co-occurrence patterns were found inconsistently among lianas that share the same region of host space, and those that do not.
Conclusions: Overall, results indicate the liana community is structured non-randomly. Liana–host interactions appear to follow an opportunistic growth strategy and interactions are due mostly to habitat partitioning.