Beta diversity of plant–insect food webs in tropical forests: a conceptual framework



    1. Biology Center, Czech Academy of Sciences and Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
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Vojtech Novotny, New Guinea Binatang Research Center, PO Box 604, Madang, Papua New Guinea. E-mail:



  • 1Beta diversity of plant–herbivore food webs, defined as turnover of trophic interactions between the food webs, represents a potentially useful extension of traditional studies of plant and herbivore beta diversity as it integrates spatial turnover of plant and herbivore species with changes in herbivore host plant preferences.
  • 2Beta diversity of plant–herbivore food webs can be partitioned into four components, corresponding to the turnover of plant–herbivore interactions due to change in (i) both plant and herbivore species, (ii) plant, but not herbivore, species, (iii) herbivore, but not plant, species, and (iv) herbivore host preferences between food webs. These components can be quantified using a range of existing beta diversity indices.
  • 3Relative magnitude of plant and herbivore beta diversity of plant–herbivore food webs can be analysed as an outcome of herbivore (i) host specificity, (ii) ability to track host plant populations by dispersal, and (iii) response to environmental conditions, competitors and enemies. The relative importance of these factors in tropical ecosystems remains to be determined.