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The effects of foliar pubescence and nutrient enrichment on arthropod communities of Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae)


1. Nutrient resource availability and host-plant foliar pubescence both influence arthropod food webs, but multifactor studies are needed to understand their interdependence and relative importance. Arthropods were sampled by clipping foliage from Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae) trees of pubescent, glabrous, and intermediate leaf forms on fertilised and unfertilised plots. 2. Fertilisation decreased leaf mass per area (LMA) but did not change the relative mass of pubescence within leaf morphological classes. 3. Fertilisation increased densities of individuals in four taxonomic orders, densities of individuals and species of all trophic levels, and the biomass of Collembola and Homoptera. Herbivore relative diversity (Shannon H') also increased with fertilisation, but detritivore diversity declined due to increasing dominance of Salina celebensis (Schaeffer) (Collembola). 4. Detritivore density, driven again by S. celebensis, increased with decreasing leaf pubescence, but Heteroptera and Acari were most abundant on the intermediate pubescence class, and Psocoptera density and biomass increased with increasing pubescence. Trophic-level species density did not change with leaf morphological class, but relative diversity of all arthropods and of detritivores increased with increasing pubescence. 5. Both resource availability and leaf pubescence affected Metrosideros arthropod communities. However, the pervasive positive influence of fertilisation did not translate to compositional shifts, and there were no interactions with leaf morphological class. In contrast, the effects of leaf pubescence on arthropod density, biomass, and diversity were more restricted taxonomically, and non-parametric MANOVA and redundancy analyses demonstrated significant differentiation in community composition on the pubescent morphology.

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