loading page

Sexual dimorphism and phenology interplay determines arthropod communities
  • +2
  • Ixchel González-Ramírez,
  • Zenón Cano-Santana,
  • Araceli Araceli Romero,
  • Víctor López-Gómez,
  • Johnattan Hernandez Cumplido
Ixchel González-Ramírez
University of California Berkeley
Author Profile
Zenón Cano-Santana
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Author Profile
Araceli Araceli Romero
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Author Profile
Víctor López-Gómez
México Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático
Author Profile
Johnattan Hernandez Cumplido
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Facultad de Ciencias

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


Intraspecific variation in plants is expected to have profound impacts on the arthropod communities associated with them. Because sexual dimorphism in plants is expected to provide consistent variation among individuals of the same species, researchers have often studied the effect it has on associated arthropods. Nevertheless, most studies have focused on the effect of sexual dimorphism in a single or a few herbivores, thus overlooking the potential effects on the whole arthropod community. Our main objective was to evaluate effects of Buddleja cordata’s plant-sex on its associated arthropod community. We surveyed 13 pairs of male and female plants every two months during a year (June 2010-April 2011). Every sampling date, we measured plant traits (water content and leaf thickness), herbivory, and the arthropod community. We did not find differences in herbivory between plant sex or through time. However, we found differences in water content through time, with leaf water-content matching the environmental seasonality. For arthropod richness, we found 68 morphospecies associated with female and 72 with male plants, from which 53 were shared by both sexes. We did not observe differences in morphospecies richness; however, we found sex-associated differences in the diversity of all species and differences on the diversity of the most abundant species with an interesting temporal component. During peak flowering season male plants showed higher values on both parameters, but during the peak fructification season female plants showed the higher values on both diversity parameters. Our research exemplifies the interaction between plant-phenology and plant-sex as drivers of arthropod communities’ diversity, even when plant sexual-dimorphism is inconspicuous, and highlighting the importance of accounting for seasonal variation. We stress the need of conducting more studies that test this time-dependent framework in other dioecious systems, as it has the potential to reconcile previous contrasting observations reported in the literature.