Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Biology

Date of Defense

6-24-2011

Graduate Advisor

Robert Marquis, Ph.D.

Committee

Tang-Martinez, Zuleyma

Stevens, Peter

Abstract

In this study, I investigated how ecosystem engineering by leaftying caterpillars and foliage quality affect the arthropod community associated with white oak (Quercus alba L.). In Chapter 1, I review the literature on ecosystem engineering, shelter building caterpillars, and foliage quality. I examine the origins of the concept of ecosystem engineering, the controversies surrounding it, and the current framework. I review previous studies on shelter building caterpillars, with a special emphasis on those studies performed on oaks. In addition, I review the components of foliage quality in oaks and how these components can influence arthropods, including ecosystem engineers. In Chapter 2, I present the results of a study designed to determine the impact of leaftying caterpillars as ecosystem engineers and foliage quality on the arthropod community associated with white oak. I found that the presence of leaftying caterpillars significantly impacted arthropod communities by altering community structure and increasing arthropod diversity. In addition, I found that the impact of leaftying caterpillars on the arthropod community varied between host plants of different quality, suggesting that environmental context can have an influence on the community impacts of ecosystem engineering.

Share

COinS