Molecular analyses reveal consistent food web structure with elevation in rainforest Drosophila – parasitoid communities

Jeffs, Christopher T., Terry, J. Christopher D., Higgie, Megan, Jandová, Anna, Konvičková, Hana, Brown, Joel J., Lue, Chia Hua, Schiffer, Michele, O'Brien, Eleanor, Bridle, Jon, Hrcek, Jan, and Lewis, Owen T. (2021) Molecular analyses reveal consistent food web structure with elevation in rainforest Drosophila – parasitoid communities. Ecography, 44 (3). pp. 403-413.

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The analysis of interaction networks across spatial environmental gradients is a powerful approach to investigate the responses of communities to global change. Using a combination of DNA metabarcoding and traditional molecular methods we built bipartite Drosophila-parasitoid food webs from six Australian rainforest sites across gradients spanning 850 m in elevation and 5° Celsius in mean temperature. Our cost-effective hierarchical approach to network reconstruction separated the determination of host frequencies from the detection and quantification of interactions. The food webs comprised 5-9 host and 5-11 parasitoid species at each site, and showed a lower incidence of parasitism at high elevation. Despite considerable turnover in the relative abundance of host Drosophila species, and contrary to some previous results, we did not detect significant changes to fundamental metrics of network structure including nestedness and specialisation with elevation. Advances in community ecology depend on data from a combination of methodological approaches. It is therefore especially valuable to develop model study systems for sets of closely-interacting species that are diverse enough to be representative, yet still amenable to field and laboratory experiments.

Item ID: 65047
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0587
Keywords: DNA metabarcoding, elevational gradients, Drosophila, host-parasitoid, quantitative network
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Ecography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Natural Environment Research Council (UK), Czech Science Foundation (CSF)
Projects and Grants: ARC DE130100218, NERC NE/N010221/1, CSF Junior Grant 17-27184Y
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2020 00:41
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310407 Host-parasite interactions @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310406 Evolutionary impacts of climate change @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 70%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 30%
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