Insect diversity, community composition and damage index on wild and cultivated murtilla

Plant domestication is a process in which plants' chemical defenses that help them cope with herbivores might decline. Consequences of this process could be reflected in an increase in insect pests. Therefore, we carried out a survey to contrast the diversity, damage indexes and insect assemblages between cultivated and wild 'Murtilla' (Ugni molinae) plants. The main scientific question put forward in this paper is as follows: Is there a decrease in diversity and an increase in both insect assemblages and damage indexes associated with the domestication process in U. molinae plants? The objective of this report was to compare the structure of a taxonomic assemblage collected in both wild and cultivated plants and their temporal variation over the year. Seven ecotypes and their respective wild populations were selected for these studies. The results showed higher insect assemblages in wild parents (77.35%) vs. cultivated (22.7%). The damage indexes were also higher in wild plants (0.23). The diversity indexes according to Margalef (12.98), the Shannon index (5.15) and the Simpson index (19.04) were higher in wild plants. Moreover, approximately 60 species were determinate. We detected changes in insect assemblages, damage and diversity indexes that could suggest that murtilla domestication has altered insect assemblages.

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