Importance of interaction rewiring in determining spatial and temporal turnover of tritrophic (Piper-caterpillar-parasitoid) metanetworks in the Yucatán Península, México

Diego F. Campos-Moreno, Lee A. Dyer, Danielle Salcido, Tara Joy Massad, Gabriela Pérez-Lachaud, Eric J. Tepe, James B. Whitfield, Carmen Pozo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural history studies documenting spatial and temporal variation of species assemblages and their interactions are critical for understanding biodiversity and community ecology. We characterized caterpillar–parasitoid assemblages on shrubs in the genus Piper across remnants of semi-evergreen forest in the Yucatán Península during the rainy and rainy–dry seasons. We collected caterpillars feeding on Piper leaves and reared them to adults or parasitoids to: (i) describe tritrophic interactions between Piper, caterpillars, and parasitoids, (ii) compare empirical metanetworks among sites and seasons, and (iii) investigate patterns in species and interaction turnover across spatial and temporal scales to understand the contribution of species composition and interaction rewiring to overall interaction turnover. We found six Piper species supporting 79 species of caterpillars, which in turn hosted 20 species of parasitoids. In total, there were 116 realized trophic interactions. Species and interactions exhibited substantial turnover at temporal and spatial scales. Total interaction turnover was more pronounced across seasons in all sites (>93%), than it was between sites (<91%). We also found that interaction rewiring contributed more to overall interaction turnover than species turnover. The spatial and temporal variation in metanetworks documented here contribute to understanding fine-scale temporal and spatial turnover in tropical species and interactions and raise important questions about the lability of consumer specialization and the short-term effects of interaction rewiring on the stability of biotic communities. Our results highlight the importance of tropical food web studies that are based on natural history using consistent field methods to document bi- and tripartite interactions. Abstract in Spanish is available with online material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1081
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • beta diversity
  • caterpillar–parasitoid assemblages
  • natural history
  • temporal–spatial variation
  • tritrophic interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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