Data from: Genotypic variation in plant traits shapes herbivorous insect and ant communities on a foundation tree species

  • Hilary L. Barker (Contributor)
  • Liza M. Holeski (Contributor)
  • R. L. Lindroth (Contributor)



Community genetics aims to understand the effects of intraspecific genetic variation on community composition and diversity, thereby connecting community ecology with evolutionary biology. Multiple studies have shown that different plant genotypes harbor different communities of associated organisms, such as insects. Yet, the mechanistic links that tie insect community composition to plant genetics are still not well understood. To shed light on these relationships, we explored variation in both plant traits (e.g., growth, phenology, defense) and herbivorous insect and ant communities on 328 replicated aspen (Populus tremuloides) genets grown in a common garden. We measured traits and visually surveyed insect communities annually in 2014 and 2015. We found that insect communities overall exhibited low heritability and were shaped primarily by relationships among key insects (i.e., aphids, ants, and free-feeders). Several tree traits affected insect communities and the presence/absence of species and functional groups. Of these traits, tree size and foliar phenology were the most important. Larger trees had more dense and diverse insect communities, while timing of bud break and bud set differentially influenced particular species and insect groups, especially leaf modifying insects. These findings lay the groundwork for future work that will identify plant genes and genetic regions that underlie the structure of associated insect communities.,WisAsp_CommunityGenetics_TreeTraitInsectCommunityThese data are from the Wisconsin Aspen "WisAsp" (Populus tremuloides) common garden from 2014-5. WisAsp contains a population of 328 replicated aspen genets. Each tree was surveyed for ecologically-relevant tree traits (growth, size, morphology, bud phenology, phytochemistry, extra floral nectaries) and insect communities (herbivorous insects and ants).WisAsp_2014-5_DryadData.xlsx,
Date made availableJul 1 2018

Cite this