Subtle structures with not-so-subtle functions: A data set of arthropod constructs and their host plants

Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Samuel Novais, Milton Barbosa, Daniel Negreiros, Thiago Gonçalves-Souza, Tomas Roslin, Robert Marquis, Nicholas Marino, Vojtech Novotny, Jerome Orivel, Shen Sui, Gustavo Aires, Reuber Antoniazzi, Wesley Dáttilo, Crasso Breviglieri, Annika Busse, Heloise Gibb, Thiago Izzo, Tomas Kadlec, Victoria KempMonica Kersch-Becker, Michal Knapp, Pavel Kratina, Rebecca Luke, Stefan Majnarić, Robin Maritz, Paulo Mateus Martins, Esayas Mendesil, Jaroslav Michalko, Anna Mrazova, Mirela Sertić Perić, Jana Petermann, Sérvio Ribeiro, Katerina Sam, M. Kurtis Trzcinski, Camila Vieira, Natalie Westwood, Maria Bernaschini, Valentina Carvajal, Ezequiel González, Mariana Jausoro, Stanis Kaensin, Fabiola Ospina, Jacob Cristóbal Pérez, Mauricio Quesada, Pierre Rogy, Diane S. Srivastava, Scarlett Szpryngiel, Ayco J.M. Tack, Tiit Teder, Martin Videla, Mari Liis Viljur, Julia Koricheva, G. Wilson Fernandes, Gustavo Q. Romero, Tatiana Cornelissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The construction of shelters on plants by arthropods might influence other organisms via changes in colonization, community richness, species composition, and functionality. Arthropods, including beetles, caterpillars, sawflies, spiders, and wasps often interact with host plants via the construction of shelters, building a variety of structures such as leaf ties, tents, rolls, and bags; leaf and stem galls, and hollowed out stems. Such constructs might have both an adaptive value in terms of protection (i.e., serve as shelters) but may also exert a strong influence on terrestrial community diversity in the engineered and neighboring hosts via colonization by secondary occupants. Although different traits of the host plant (e.g., physical, chemical, and architectural features) may affect the potential for ecosystem engineering by insects, such effects have been, to a certain degree, overlooked. Further analyses of how plant traits affect the occurrence of shelters may therefore enrich our understanding of the organizing principles of plant-based communities. This data set includes more than 1000 unique records of ecosystem engineering by arthropods, in the form of structures built on plants. All records have been published in the literature, and span both natural structures (91% of the records) and structures artificially created by researchers (9% of the records). The data were gathered between 1932 and 2021, across more than 50 countries and several ecosystems, ranging from polar to tropical zones. In addition to data on host plants and engineers, we aggregated data on the type of constructs and the identity of inquilines using these structures. This data set highlights the importance of these subtle structures for the organization of terrestrial arthropod communities, enabling hypotheses testing in ecological studies addressing ecosystem engineering and facilitation mediated by constructs. There are no copyright restrictions and please cite this paper when using the data in publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3639
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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