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Evidence of plant– arthropod interaction in the fossil assemblage from Pitsidia (Messara Basin, Crete, Greece; Upper Miocene)

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As major components of natural ecosystems, plants interact with the biotic and abiotic environment developing a spectrum of different responses at various biological levels. Such biotic interactions are detectible in the plant fossil record and provide an outline of ecological functions during the past. The recently described Late Miocene plant assemblage from Pitsidia in the Messara Basin was examined for arthropod mediated damage. Most of the damage was detected on abundant, more than 2.500 specimens, well-preserved material of Myrica lignitum foliage, providing a broad range of traces. Eighteen different types of leaf modifications were distinguished, with hole, margin, surface feeding, lamina distortion and possibly galls as the most common while mining and exophytic oviposition were rare. Among this damage, it appears that only a few represent host-specialist feeding. These findings could serve as a database for the component herbivore community on M. lignitum. Considerations of this insect damage regarding past habitats and vegetation at Pitsidia as well as on plant–arthropod co-association are discussed. Several forms of arthropod damage on other plant taxa in this assemblage are briefly mentioned.
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Keywords: FOLIVORY; ICHNOFOSSILS; MYRICA LIGNITUM; OVIPOSITION; PLANT- ARTHROPOD ASSOCIATIONS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2020

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