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Combined Effects of Extreme Climatic Events and Elevation on Nutritional Quality and Herbivory of Alpine Plants

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-112812
  • Climatic extreme events can cause the shift or disruption of plant-insect interactions due to altered plant quality, e.g. leaf carbon to nitrogen ratios, and phenology. However, the response of plant-herbivore interactions to extreme events and climatic gradients has been rarely studied, although climatic extremes will increase in frequency and intensity in the future and insect herbivores represent a highly diverse and functionally important group. We set up a replicated climate change experiment along elevational gradients in the German AlpsClimatic extreme events can cause the shift or disruption of plant-insect interactions due to altered plant quality, e.g. leaf carbon to nitrogen ratios, and phenology. However, the response of plant-herbivore interactions to extreme events and climatic gradients has been rarely studied, although climatic extremes will increase in frequency and intensity in the future and insect herbivores represent a highly diverse and functionally important group. We set up a replicated climate change experiment along elevational gradients in the German Alps to study the responses of three plant guilds and their herbivory by insects to extreme events (extreme drought, advanced and delayed snowmelt) versus control plots under different climatic conditions on 15 grassland sites. Our results indicate that elevational shifts in CN (carbon to nitrogen) ratios and herbivory depend on plant guild and season. CN ratios increased with altitude for grasses, but decreased for legumes and other forbs. In contrast to our hypotheses, extreme climatic events did not significantly affect CN ratios and herbivory. Thus, our study indicates that nutritional quality of plants and antagonistic interactions with insect herbivores are robust against seasonal climatic extremes. Across the three functional plant guilds, herbivory increased with nitrogen concentrations. Further, increased CN ratios indicate a reduction in nutritional plant quality with advancing season. Although our results revealed no direct effects of extreme climatic events, the opposing responses of plant guilds along elevation imply that competitive interactions within plant communities might change under future climates, with unknown consequences for plant-herbivore interactions and plant community composition.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Annette Leingärtner, Bernhard Hoiss, Jochen Krauss, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-112812
Document Type:Journal article
Faculties:Fakultät für Biologie / Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften
Language:English
Year of Completion:2014
Source:PLoS ONE 9(4): e93881. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093881
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0093881
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Tag:Climate Change; Drought; Grasses; Herbivory; Insects; Leaves; Legumes; Plant-herbivore interactions
Release Date:2015/05/13
Collections:Open-Access-Publikationsfonds / Förderzeitraum 2014
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz: Namensnennung