Global pattern of plant utilization across different organisms: Does plant apparency or plant phylogeny matter?
Dai, X.; Zhang, W.; Xu, J.; Duffy, K.J.; Guo, Q.
Ecology and Evolution 7(8): 2535-2545
ISSN/ISBN: 2045-7758 PMID: 28428845 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2882
The present study is the first to consider human and nonhuman consumers together to reveal several general patterns of plant utilization. We provide evidence that at a global scale, plant apparency and phylogenetic isolation can be important predictors of plant utilization and consumer diversity. Using the number of species or genera or the distribution area of each plant family as the island "area" and the minimum phylogenetic distance to common plant families as the island "distance", we fitted presence-area relationships and presence-distance relationships with a binomial GLM (generalized linear model) with a logit link. The presence-absence of consumers among each plant family strongly depended on plant apparency (family size and distribution area); the diversity of consumers increased with plant apparency but decreased with phylogenetic isolation. When consumers extended their host breadth, unapparent plants became more likely to be used. Common uses occurred more often on common plants and their relatives, showing higher host phylogenetic clustering than uncommon uses. On the contrary, highly specialized uses might be related to the rarity of plant chemicals and were therefore very species-specific. In summary, our results provide a global illustration of plant-consumer combinations and reveal several general patterns of plant utilization across humans, insects and microbes. First, plant apparency and plant phylogenetic isolation generally govern plant utilization value, with uncommon and isolated plants suffering fewer parasites. Second, extension of the breadth of utilized hosts helps explain the presence of consumers on unapparent plants. Finally, the phylogenetic clustering structure of host plants is different between common uses and uncommon uses. The strength of such consistent plant utilization patterns across a diverse set of usage types suggests that the persistence and accumulation of consumer diversity and use value for plant species are determined by similar ecological and evolutionary processes.