Intraspecific gene diversity increases total species richness
Apparently, it is not only the number of different plant species in a habitat that influences the diversity of insects there - the genetic diversity within a plant population also plays a major role.
According to the counts of researchers led by Gregory Crutsinger from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, there were almost a third more insect species and a higher number of individuals in pure goldenrod (Solidago altissima) stocks from twelve different genotypes than in those with only one genetic variant. In addition, under the same site conditions, the plants in the genetically richer areas usually grew denser and taller and produced more flowers. The researchers therefore assume that the genetically diverse populations make better use of the existing soil resources and thus offer the insects correspondingly more ecological niches and better feeding grounds.
Previous research has shown that species-rich grassland ecosystems are more productive than species-poor. Crutsinger and his colleagues now recommend that when restoring destroyed or damaged natural landscapes, attention should be paid not only to pure biodiversity, but also to the genetic diversity of the plants planted.