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Abstracts - Leandro Cosmo

Intraspecific phytochemical variation of Piper amalago L. plants and its effects on herbivory and caterpillar community structure

Leandro Cosmo1*, Lydia Yamaguchi2, Mariana Stanton², Massuo Kato², Rodrigo Cogni³, Martin Pareja4

1 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas; legiacobelli@gmail.com

2 Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo; lydyama@iq.usp.br, mariana.a.stanton@gmail.com, massuojorge@gmail.com

³ Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade de São Paulo; rcogni@usp.br

4 Departamento de Biologia Animal, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas; mpareja@unicamp.br

* Correspondence: legiacobelli@gmail.com

Insect-plant interactions drive many ecological and evolutionary processes, ranging from ecological specialization to maintaining diversity in species-rich plant-herbivore communities. Such processes are often mediated by plant chemistry and it is essential to address how phytochemical traits vary under different conditions and the consequences of this variation for insect-plant interactions. However, although phytochemical variation among plant species has recently been shown to increase and maintain herbivore diversity, we still do not fully understand how chemical traits among individuals of the same plant species differ and affect its herbivores, especially in natural, species-rich systems. In order to close this gap, we are addressing how phytochemical variation among individuals of a plant species of the tropical, species-rich genus Piper - Piper amalago L. - affects herbivory and the community structure of its main herbivores - caterpillars. We are collecting caterpillars and leaves from randomly selected P. amalago individuals at the Reserva Biologica Municipal Serra do Japi, Jundiaí, SP, Brazil, in three-monthly intervals, since July 2017. Plant phytochemistry is being evaluated through High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS), and quantified as the composition and abundance of leaves secondary metabolites. We are quantifying herbivory as the percentage of the leaf damaged by chewing herbivores, and the caterpillar community structure is being assessed as the composition and abundance of every larva found on each sampled plant.

This is an ongoing study and is contributing directly towards a better understanding of how plant chemistry and herbivore insect diversity relate to each other, as well as producing empirical data for a biome - tropical forests - that currently lacks information.