Is Allelopathic Activity of Ipomoea murucoides Induced by Xylophage Damage?
Host identity influences the guilds (epiphytes and xylophages) that interact within canopies. Host species can be categorized as either limiting or preferred hosts based on epiphyte load. It is possible that, depending on the host category (limiting or preferred), galleries bored by xylophages would affect the quality and availability of space for epiphytes. The objective of this study was to determine, among and within limiting and preferred hosts, the relationship between the damage inflicted by insects to branches and epiphytic bromeliads. We collected two branches each (with and without epiphytes, respectively) from limiting hosts (Bursera fagaroides, Ipomoea murucoides and I. pauciflora) and preferred hosts (Bursera copallifera and B. glabrifolia). The variables measured were: number and species of epiphytes, number of holes, number and taxonomical group of insects, percentage of epiphyte cover and percentage of area damaged by insects. These variables were compared among and within hosts and the significant correlations, where present, determined. We identified five bromeliad species and six taxonomical groups of insects. I. murucoides showed a higher proportion of damage and a larger number of insects. For the three limiting hosts, there was a negative relationship between (1) epiphyte cover and damaged area, (2) number of epiphyte individuals and number of xylophages and (3) number of epiphyte individuals and damaged area. Within species, B. copallifera, B. glabrifolia and I. pauciflora had more holes in branches that supported epiphytes than in branches without. We hypothesized that, inter-specifically, xylophages would interfere with the establishment of epiphytes by facilitating the release of allelopathics, but this possibility needs to be examined in more detail. Intra-specifically, it is possible that holes made by xylophages do not cause sufficient damage in hosts and, consequently, a possible repercussion on epiphytes is not reflected.