Distantly related neighbours of host trees can prevent arthropods from matching tree characteristics: a story of arthropod phenotypes and leaf damage on oak trees.
Forest arthropods profit from matching tree characteristics. Such matching may be difficult when trees are among phylogenetically distant neighbours, which limits arthropod exchange. Studying arthropods on oak trees, we found reduced matching in such neighbourhoods: (i) herbivory no longer increased proportionally with leaf size, (ii) phenology matching declined in particular on rapidly bursting trees, and (iii) temperature-size relationships shifted. These suggest that to avoid excessive herbivory, trees should grow among phylogenetically distant neighbours, which supposedly prevent arthropods from effectively choosing profitable trees.