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Aboveground insect herbivory increases plant competitive asymmetry, while belowground herbivory mitigates the effect

Borgström, Pernilla and Strengbom, Joachim and Viketoft, Maria and Bommarco, Riccardo (2016). Aboveground insect herbivory increases plant competitive asymmetry, while belowground herbivory mitigates the effect. PeerJ. 4, 1-18
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1867

Abstract

Insect herbivores can shift the composition of a plant community, but the mechanism underlying such shifts remains largely unexplored. A possibility is that insects alter the competitive symmetry between plant species. The effect of herbivory on competition likely depends on whether the plants are subjected to aboveground or belowground herbivory or both, and also depends on soil nitrogen levels. It is unclear how these biotic and abiotic factors interactively affect competition. Ina greenhouse experiment, we measured competition between two coexisting grass species that respond differently to nitrogen deposition: Dactylis glomerata L., which is competitively favoured by nitrogen addition, and Festuca rubra L., which is competitively favoured on nitrogen-poor soils. We predicted: (1) that aboveground herbivory would reduce competitive asymmetry at high soil nitrogen by reducing the competitive advantage of D. glomerata; and (2), that belowground herbivory would relax competition at low soil nitrogen, by reducing the competitive advantage of F. rubra. Aboveground herbivory caused a 46 A) decrease in the competitive ability of F. rubra, and a 23% increase in that of D. glomerata, thus increasing competitive asymmetry, independently of soil nitrogen level. Belowground herbivory did not affect competitive symmetry, but the combined influence of above and belowground herbivory was weaker than predicted from their individual effects. Belowground herbivory thus mitigated the increased competitive asymmetry caused by aboveground herbivory. D. glomerata remained competitively dominant after the cessation of aboveground herbivory, showing that the influence of herbivory continued beyond the feeding period. We showed that insect herbivory can strongly influence plant competitive interactions. In our experimental plant community, aboveground insect herbivory increased the risk of competitive exclusion of F. rubra. Belowground herbivory appeared to mitigate the influence of aboveground herbivory, and this mechanism may play a role for plant species coexistence.

Authors/Creators:Borgström, Pernilla and Strengbom, Joachim and Viketoft, Maria and Bommarco, Riccardo
Title:Aboveground insect herbivory increases plant competitive asymmetry, while belowground herbivory mitigates the effect
Series/Journal:PeerJ (2167-8359)
Year of publishing :2016
Volume:4
Page range:1-18
Number of Pages:18
Publisher:PeerJ
ISSN:2167-8359
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Refereed:Yes
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:F Plant production > F40 Plant ecology
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Agrovoc terms:insects, herbivory, biodiversity
Keywords:Grassland, Festuca rubra, Spodoptera littoralis, Nitrogen deposition, Dactylis glomerata, Plant-herbivore interactions, Agriotes spp
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-3601
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-3601
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000374160000005
ID Code:13560
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:18 Aug 2016 11:22
Metadata Last Modified:18 Aug 2016 11:22

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