Authors: Torsten Wappler, Friðgeir Grímsson
Iceland is the only known terrestrial place in the subarctic North Atlantic providing a fairly continuous sedimentary and plant fossil record over the past 15 million years. While the basic palaeobotanical framework of this pattern has been well established during the last decade, less attention has been paid to the abundant insect traces on fossil leaves/leaflets. Here, we assess the diversity and frequency of insect herbivory on 4349 fossil angiosperm leaves/leaflets from six plant-bearing sedimentary formations exposed at 18 localities. By combining analyses of environmental factors, species interactions, ecology, biogeography, and the geological history, our results demonstrate how patterns of herbivory have changed over time in relation to temperature fluctuations that profoundly influenced levels of insect-mediated damage diversity and frequency. In addition, higher structural complexity, particularly the establishment of species-rich herb layer communities seems to have positively influenced the structure of insect communities in early late Miocene palaeoforests of Iceland.