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Long-term deer exclosure alters soil properties, plant traits, understory plant community and insect herbivory, but not the functional relationships among them

Stephan, Jörg and Pourazari, Fereshteh and Tattersdill, Kristina and Kobayashi, Takuya and Nishizawa, Keita and De Long, Jonathan (2017). Long-term deer exclosure alters soil properties, plant traits, understory plant community and insect herbivory, but not the functional relationships among them. Oecologia. 184, 685-699
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Official URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3895-3

Abstract

Evidence of the indirect effects of increasing global deer populations on other trophic levels is increasing. However, it remains unknown if excluding deer alters ecosystem functional relationships. We investigated how sika deer exclosure after 18 years changed soil conditions, the understory plant community, the traits of a dominant understory plant (Sasa palmata), herbivory by three insect-feeding guilds, and the functional relationships between these properties. Deer absence decreased understory plant diversity, but increased soil organic matter and ammonium concentrations. When deer were absent, S. palmata plants grew taller, with more, larger, and tougher leaves with higher polyphenol concentrations. Deer absence led to higher leaf area consumed by all insect guilds, but lower insect herbivory per plant due to increased resource abundance (i.e., a dilution effect). This indicates that deer presence strengthened insect herbivory per plant, while in deer absence plants compensated losses with growth. Because plant defenses increased in the absence of deer, higher insect abundances in deer absence may have outweighed lower consumption rates. A path model revealed that the functional relationships between the measured properties were similar between deer absence versus presence. Taken together, deer altered the abiotic and biotic environment, thereby changing insect herbivory, which might impact upon nutrient cycling and primary productivity. These results provide evidence that deer can alter interactions between trophic levels, but that functional relationships between certain ecosystem components may remain constant. These findings highlight the need to consider how increasing global deer populations can have cascade effects that might alter ecosystem dynamics.

Authors/Creators:Stephan, Jörg and Pourazari, Fereshteh and Tattersdill, Kristina and Kobayashi, Takuya and Nishizawa, Keita and De Long, Jonathan
Title:Long-term deer exclosure alters soil properties, plant traits, understory plant community and insect herbivory, but not the functional relationships among them
Series/Journal:Oecologia (1432-1939)
Year of publishing :2017
Volume:184
Page range:685-699
Number of Pages:15
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1432-1939
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Refereed:Yes
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
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:herbivores, trophic levels, plant defense reactions, plasticity
Keywords:Trophic cascade, Phenotypic plasticity, Herbivore load, Plant diversity, Plant defense
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-4581
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-4581
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1007/s00442-017-3895-3
Web of Science (WoS)000405603100010
ID Code:14868
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(NL, NJ) > Department of Aquatic Resources
(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology

(NL, NJ) > Department of Plant Biology (from 140101)
(S) > Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:18 Dec 2017 12:24
Metadata Last Modified:18 Dec 2017 12:24

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