ResearchPad - plant-animal-interactions https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Natural history museum collection and citizen science data show advancing phenology of Danish hoverflies (Insecta: Diptera, Syrphidae) with increasing annual temperature]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14485 We explore the phenological response by Danish hoverflies (Syrphidae) to continually rising annual temperatures by analysing >50.000 natural history collection and citizen science records for 37 species collected between 1900 and 2018, a period during which the annual average temperature in Denmark rose significantly (p << 0.01). We perform a simple linear regression analysis of the 10th percentile observation date for each species against year of observation. Fourteen of the species showed a statistically significant (p < 0.05) negative correlation between 10th percentile date and year of observation, indicating earlier emergence as a likely response to climatic warming. Eighteen species showed a non-significant (p ≥ 0.05) negative correlation between 10th percentile date and year of observation, while four species showed a non-significant (p ≥ 0.05) positive correlation, and one showed neither a positive nor a negative correlation. We explore the possible impact of the length of the data series on the regression analysis by dividing the species into four groups depending on how far back in time we have data: ultra-short series (with data from 2003–2018); short series (data from 1998–2018); medium series (data from 1980–2018); long series (data from 2018 to before 1980). The length of the series seems to have an effect on the results as 60% of the long series species (nine out of 15) showed a statistically significant negative correlation, while for the shorter series species less than 35% showed a statistically significant negative correlation. When we reduced the long series in length to short series, the proportion of statistically significant negative correlations fell to 33%, confirming this assumption. We conclude that northern temperate hoverflies generally react to the ongoing climatic warming by emerging earlier.

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<![CDATA[Moderate plant water stress improves larval development, and impacts immunity and gut microbiota of a specialist herbivore]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe62d5eed0c484e5b9b6

While host plant drought is generally viewed as a negative phenomenon, its impact on insect herbivores can vary largely depending on the species involved and on the intensity of the drought. Extreme drought killing host plants can clearly reduce herbivore fitness, but the impact of moderate host plant water stress on insect herbivores can vary, and may even be beneficial. The populations of the Finnish Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) have faced reduced precipitation in recent years, with impacts even on population dynamics. Whether the negative effects of low precipitation are solely due to extreme desiccation killing the host plant or whether moderate drought reduces plant quality for the larvae remains unknown. We assessed the performance of larvae fed on moderately water-stressed Plantago lanceolata in terms of growth, survival, and immune response, and additionally were interested to assess whether the gut microbial composition of the larvae changed due to modification of the host plant. We found that larvae fed on water-stressed plants had increased growth, with no impact on survival, up-regulated the expression of one candidate immune gene (pelle), and had a more heterogeneous bacterial community and a shifted fungal community in the gut. Most of the measured traits showed considerable variation due to family structure. Our data suggest that in temperate regions moderate host plant water stress can positively shape resource acquisition of this specialized insect herbivore, potentially by increasing nutrient accessibility or concentration. Potentially, the better larval performance may be mediated by a shift of the microbiota on water-stressed plants, calling for further research especially on the understudied gut fungal community.

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<![CDATA[Seasonal diet composition of Pyrenean chamois is mainly shaped by primary production waves]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5217add5eed0c484794364

In alpine habitats, the seasonally marked climatic conditions generate seasonal and spatial differences in forage availability for herbivores. Vegetation availability and quality during the growing season are known to drive life history traits of mountain ungulates. However, little effort has been made to understand the association between plant phenology and changes in the foraging strategies of these mountain dwellers. Furthermore, this link can be affected by the seasonal presence of livestock in the same meadows. The objective of this work was to study the seasonal changes in diet composition of Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica) and its relationship to primary production trends in a Mediterranean alpine environment. Moreover, diet composition in two populations with contrasting livestock pressure was compared in order to study the effect of sheep flocks on the feeding behaviour of chamois. From 2009 to 2012, monthly diet composition was estimated by cuticle microhistological analysis of chamois faeces collected in the eastern Pyrenees. The primary production cycle was assessed by remote sensing, using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. Additionally, the diet of sheep sharing seasonally the subalpine and alpine meadows with chamois was analysed. Diet selection of chamois and sheep and their overlap was also assessed. Our results show an intra-annual variation in the diet composition of Pyrenean chamois and demonstrate a strong relationship between plant consumption dynamics and phenology in alpine areas. In addition, Calluna vulgaris, Cytisus spp. and Festuca spp., as well as forbs in the summer, are found to be key forage species for Pyrenean chamois. Furthermore, this study couldn’t detect differences between both chamois populations despite the presence of sheep flocks in only one area. However, the detection of a shift in the diet of chamois in both areas after the arrival of high densities of multi-specific livestock suggest a general livestock effect. In conclusion, Pyrenean chamois are well adapted to the variations in the seasonal availability of plants in alpine habitats but could be disturbed by the seasonal presence of livestock. Due to the key plants in their diet, we suggest that population management programmes should focus on the preservation of mixed grasslands composed of patches of shrubs and herbs. The effects of climate change and shrub expansion should be studied as they may potentially affect chamois population dynamics through changes in habitat composition and temporal shifts in forage availability.

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<![CDATA[Benthic reef assemblages of the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical South-west Atlantic: Effects of depth, wave exposure and cross-shelf positioning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f79ad5eed0c484386471

Oceanic islands can be relatively isolated from overfishing and pollution sources, but they are often extremely vulnerable to climate and anthropogenic stress due to their small size and unique assemblages that may rely on a limited larval supply for replenishment. Vulnerability may be especially high when these islands bear permanent human populations or are subjected to regular or intermittent fishing. Since the late 1970's, Brazil has been establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) around its four oceanic island groups, which concentrate high endemism levels and are considered peripheral outposts of the Brazilian Biogeographic Province. In 2018, the Brazilian legally marine protected area increased >10-fold, but most of the ~1,000,000 km2 of MPAs around Brazil's oceanic islands are still unknown and unprotected. Here, we provide the first detailed quantitative baseline of benthic reef assemblages, including shallow and mesophotic zones, of the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago (FNA). The archipelago is partially protected as a no-take MPA and recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, but also represents the only Brazilian oceanic island with a large permanent human population (3,000 people), mass tourism (up to 90,000 people per year) and a permanent small-scale fishing community. The influence of depth, wave exposure, and distance from the island and shelf edge on the structure of benthic assemblages was assessed from benthic photoquadrats obtained in 12 sites distributed in the lee and windward shores of the archipelago. Unique assemblages and discriminating species were identified using Multivariate Regression Trees, and environmental drivers of dominant assemblages’ components were evaluated using Boosted Regression Trees. A total of 128 benthic taxa were recorded and 5 distinct assemblages were identified. Distance to the insular slope, depth and exposure were the main drivers of assemblages’ differentiation. Our results represent an important baseline for evaluating changes in benthic assemblages due to increased local and global stressors.

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<![CDATA[Network of small no-take marine reserves reveals greater abundance and body size of fisheries target species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f7b9d5eed0c48438674f

No-take marine reserves (NTRs), i.e. areas with total fishing restrictions, have been established worldwide aiming to promote biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. Brazil has 3.3% of its exclusive economic zone protected by 73 different NTRs, however, most of them currently lack scientific knowledge and understanding of their ecological role, particularly regarding rocky reefs in subtropical regions. In this context, this study aimed to contrast a network of NTRs with comparable fished sites across a coastal biogeographic gradient to investigate the effect of fishing and habitat variability on the abundance and body size of rocky reef fish. We used Baited Remote Underwater stereo-Video (stereo-BRUVs) and Diver Operated stereo-Video (stereo-DOVs) systems to simultaneously sample reef fish and habitat. Model selection and results identified habitat and biogeographic variables, such as distance from shore, as important predictor variables, explaining several aspects of the fish assemblage. The effect of protection was important in determining the abundance and body size of targeted species, in particular for epinephelids and carangids. Conversely, species richness was correlated with habitat complexity but not with protection status. This is the first study using these survey methods in the Southwestern Atlantic, demonstrating how a network of NTRs can provide benchmarks for biodiversity conservation and fisheries management.

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<![CDATA[Tropicalization of the barrier islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico: A comparison of herbivory and decomposition rates between smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinans)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3d0131d5eed0c484039154

The expansion of black mangrove Avicennia germinans into historically smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora-dominated marshes with warming temperatures heralds the migration of the marsh-mangrove ecotone northward in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With this shift, A. germinans is expected to outcompete S. alterniflora where it is able to establish, offering another prevalent food source to first order consumers. In this study, we find A. germinans leaves to be preferable to chewing herbivores, but simultaneously, chewing herbivores cause more damage to S. alterniflora leaves. Despite higher nitrogen content, A. germinans leaves decomposed slower than S. alterniflora leaves, perhaps due to other leaf constituents or a different microbial community. Other studies have found the opposite in decomposition rates of the two species’ leaf tissue. This study provides insights into basic trophic process, herbivory and decomposition, at the initial stages of black mangrove colonization into S. alterniflora salt marsh.

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<![CDATA[Inside the horn of plenty: Leaf-mining micromoth manipulates its host plant to obtain unending food provisioning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c269738d5eed0c48470ef63

Leaves represent the main resource for herbivorous insects and their performances are mainly a function of leaf nutritional quality. Two feeding strategies are known to optimize the exploitation of leaf resources: leaf-miners that selectively feed on tissues of high nutritional quality and gall-inducers that induce the development of a new tissue showing an enhanced nutritional value. Some leaf-miners are known to also manipulate their nutritional environment, but do not affect plant development. Cases of callus proliferation in leaf-mines have been reported, however, the direct role of the insect in the formation of additional plant cells and the nutritional function of this tissue have never been established. Using an experimental approach, we show that leaf-mining larvae of micromoth, Borboryctis euryae (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae), that grow on Eurya japonica (Pentaphylacaceae), actively induce callus proliferation within their leaf-mine at the fourth instar. We experimentally demonstrated that, at this developmental stage, the larva feeds exclusively on this newly formed tissue and feeding of the tissue is essential for completing larval stage. Phenological census revealed considerable expansion and variation of fourth instar duration caused by the continuous production of callus. We propose here the “cornucopia” hypothesis which states that the newly produced callus induced by the leaf-mining larvae provides virtually unending nourishment, which in turn allows flexible larval development time. This represents the first example of a leaf-miner manipulating plant development to its benefit, like a gall-inducer. We propose to name this life style “mine-galler”.

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<![CDATA[Transgenerational effects of ungulates and pre-dispersal seed predators on offspring success and resistance to herbivory]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab875d5eed0c484028209

Herbivorous mammals and insect pre-dispersal seed predators are two types of herbivores that, despite their functional and morphological differences, tend to severely impact many plant species, highly decreasing their seed production and even imperiling the performance of their offspring through transgenerational effects. However, how they influence offspring resistance to herbivory remains largely unknown. In this study we experimentally examined the effects of ungulates and pre-dispersal seed predators on seed quality as well as on the emergence, survival and resistance to herbivory of the seedlings of a semiarid herb. We found that ungulates reduced seedling recruitment but increased seedling resistance to leaf miners. These effects were probably a consequence of insufficient carbon provisioning in seeds that reduced seed viability and provoked carbon limitation in seedlings. Pre-dispersal seed predators did not influence seedling recruitment, but seedlings from mothers damaged by ungulates and by pre-dispersal seed predators suffered less herbivory by grasshoppers. Remarkably, intra-individual differences in damage by pre-dispersal seed predators affected the rate of damage underwent by seedlings. That is, seedlings derived from fruits attacked by seed predators were more resistant to herbivores than siblings derived from un-attacked fruits in plant populations exposed to ungulates. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting variation in transgenerational-induced resistance of seedlings from the same maternal plant. This study is a valuable contribution to the understanding of transgenerational effects of multiple herbivores and their implications for a deeper comprehension of the natural systems in which they co-occur.

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<![CDATA[Spatio-temporal epidemiology of anthrax in Hippopotamus amphibious in Queen Elizabeth Protected Area, Uganda]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0841a3d5eed0c484fca4e8

Background

Anthrax is a zoonotic disease primarily of herbivores, caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium with diverse geographical and global distribution. Globally, livestock outbreaks have declined but in Africa significant outbreaks continue to occur with most countries still categorized as enzootic, hyper endemic or sporadic. Uganda experiences sporadic human and livestock cases. Severe large-scale outbreaks occur periodically in hippos (Hippopotamus amphibious) at Queen Elizabeth Protected Area, where in 2004/2005 and 2010 anthrax killed 437 hippos. Ecological drivers of these outbreaks and potential of hippos to maintain anthrax in the ecosystem remain unknown. This study aimed to describe spatio-temporal patterns of anthrax among hippos; examine significant trends associated with case distributions; and generate hypotheses for investigation of ecological drivers of anthrax.

Methods

Spatio-temporal patterns of 317 hippo cases in 2004/5 and 137 in 2010 were analyzed. QGIS was used to examine case distributions; Spearman’s nonparametric tests to determine correlations between cases and at-risk hippo populations; permutation models of the spatial scan statistics to examine spatio-temporal clustering of cases; directional tests to determine directionality in epidemic movements; and standard epidemic curves to determine patterns of epidemic propagation.

Key findings

Results showed hippopotamus cases extensively distributed along water shorelines with strong positive correlations (p<0.01) between cases and at-risk populations. Significant (p<0.001) spatio-temporal clustering of cases occurred throughout the epidemics, pointing towards a defined source. Significant directional epidemic spread was detected along water flow gradient (206.6°) in 2004/5 and against flow gradient (20.4°) in 2010. Temporal distributions showed clustered pulsed epidemic waves.

Conclusion

These findings suggest mixed point-source propagated pattern of epidemic spread amongst hippos and points to likelihood of indirect spread of anthrax spores between hippos mediated by their social behaviour, forces of water flow, and persistent presence of infectious carcasses amidst schools. This information sheds light on the epidemiology of anthrax in highly social wildlife, can help drive insight into disease control, wildlife conservation, and tourism management, but highlights the need for analytical and longitudinal studies aimed at clarifying the hypotheses.

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<![CDATA[Insect-flower interaction networks vary among endemic pollinator taxa over an elevation gradient]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2400d2d5eed0c484099406

Interaction networks are sensitive to elevation gradients through changes in local distribution of interacting partners. Here, we use plant-pollinator interaction network metrics to assess the effect of elevation on flowers and flower-visiting insect assemblages on a sentinel mountain used for monitoring climate change in the flower- and insect-rich Cape Floristic Region. We also use these interaction metrics to explain the effect of environmental factors on the interaction networks. We did this over four vegetation zones <1640m asl, as determined by former botanical studies. Overall, bees were the dominant flower visitors, followed by monkey beetles, and far behind were wasps and flies. The middle elevation zone (650–744 m a.s.l), which is also an ecotone between two distinct botanical zones, had the highest species richness and abundance of interacting plants and insects. Interaction frequency and size of network were also greatest in the middle zone, as were network diversity, generality, and linkage density, while lowest in the peak zone. In sum, there was distinct elevation zoning of flower-visiting insects. The greatest zonal change was between species at the middle compared with peak zone. Large-sized monkey beetles, bees and flies characterized the unique assemblage in the peak zone (1576–1640 m a.s.l.). The insect zonation tracked that of plant assemblages, with air temperature (lapse rate) being the primary driver of bee distribution, with lowest levels in the peak zone. In contrast, beetle distribution was driven mostly by flower assemblages as well as air temperature. In turn, wasp and fly interaction networks were not affected by any of the measured environmental variables. We conclude that increased elevation stress from reduced temperatures, changing abiotic weather conditions (e.g. strong winds at high elevations),and decline in flowering plant composition causes breakdown of interaction networks involving bees and beetles but not that of flies and wasps.

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<![CDATA[Interactive effects of precipitation and nitrogen enrichment on multi-trophic dynamics in plant-arthropod communities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b6da1b0463d7e4dccc5faeb

Patterns of precipitation and nitrogen (N) deposition are changing in ecosystems worldwide. Simultaneous increases in precipitation and N deposition can relieve co-limiting soil resource conditions for plants and result in synergistic plant responses, which may affect animals and plant responses to higher trophic levels. However, the potential for synergistic effects of precipitation and N deposition on animals and plant responses to herbivores and predators (via trophic cascades) is unclear. We investigated the influence of precipitation and N enrichment on ecological dynamics across three trophic levels, hypothesizing that herbivores and plants would exhibit synergistic responses to the combined influence of precipitation, N amendments and predators. To test this, we conducted a field experiment with arthropods on two model plant species, Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana rustica. First, we characterized the plant-arthropod assemblages, finding that N. tabacum hosted greater abundances of caterpillars, while N. rustica hosted more sap-sucking herbivores. Next, we evaluated the effects of rainwater, soil N, and predatory spider manipulations for both plant-arthropod assemblages. On N. tabacum, water and N availability had an interactive effect on caterpillars, where caterpillars were most abundant with rainwater additions and least abundant when both rainwater and N were added. For N. rustica, foliar chemistry had a synergistic response to all three experimental factors. Compared to spider-absent conditions, leaf N concentration increased and C/N decreased when spiders were present, but this response only occurred under high water and N availability. Spiders indirectly altered plant chemistry via a facilitative effect of spiders on sap-sucking herbivores, potentially due to intra-guild predation, and a positive effect of sap-suckers on foliar N concentration. Our study suggests that predictions of the ecological impacts of altered precipitation and N deposition may need to account for the effects of resource co-limitation on dynamics across trophic levels.

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<![CDATA[First description of extrafloral nectaries in Opuntia robusta (Cactaceae): Anatomy and ultrastructure]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b600f89463d7e3af00e5a8e

To our knowledge, there are no studies about the structure and ecological function of extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) in Opuntia robusta. This is the first description of EFNs in O. robusta, where young spines have an interesting structure and a secreting function, which are different from EFNs described in other Cactaceae species. We used light, scanning-electron, and transmission-electron microscopy to examine morphology, anatomy, and ultrastructure of the secretory spines in areoles in female and hermaphrodite individuals of O. robusta. Young cladodes develop areoles with modified and secretory spines as EFNs only active during the early growth phase. EFNs are non-vascularized structures, with no stomata, that consist of a basal meristematic tissue, a middle elongation region, and an apical secretory cone formed by large globular epidermal cells, containing nectar and medullar elongated cells. We observed the presence of Golgi apparatus, vesicles and plastids in the medullar and sup-epidermal cells of the spine. We propose that the nectar is stored in the globular cells at the apex of the spine and secreted by breaking through the globular cells or by pores. We recorded a more frequent presence of ants on younger cladode sprouts producing young secreting spines: this result is parallel with the predictions of Optimal Defense Hypothesis, which states that younger plant organs should be better defended than older ones because their loss produces a higher fitness impairment. Although Diaz-Castelazo’s hypothesis states that a more complex structure of EFNs correlates with their lower among-organs dispersion, comparing to less complex EFNs, non-vascularized structure of EFNs in O. robusta is not associated with their higher among-organs dispersion likened to O. stricta, which produces vascularized EFNs. We provide evidence that this characteristic is not a good taxonomic feature of Opuntia genus. Moreover, the comparison of EFNs of O. robusta and O. stricta suggests that the hypothesis of Diaz-Castelazo should be revised: it is rather a rule but not a law.

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<![CDATA[Changes in the free amino acid composition of Capsicum annuum (pepper) leaves in response to Myzus persicae (green peach aphid) infestation. A comparison with water stress]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c032defd5eed0c4844f899d

Amino acids play a central role in aphid-plant interactions. They are essential components of plant primary metabolism, function as precursors for the synthesis of defense-related specialized metabolites, and are major growth-limiting nutrients for aphids. To quantify changes in the free amino acid content of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) leaves in response to green peach aphid (Myzus persicae Sulzer) feeding, plants were infested with a low (20 aphids/plant) or a high (200 aphids/plant) aphid density in time-course experiments ranging from 3 hours to 7 days. A parallel experiment was conducted with pepper plants that had been subjected to water stress. Factor Analysis of Mixed Data revealed a significant interaction of time x density in the free amino acid response of aphid-infested leaves. At low aphid density, M. persicae did not trigger a strong response in pepper leaves. Conversely, at high density, a large increase in total free amino acid content was observed and specific amino acids peaked at different times post-infestation. Comparing aphid-infested with water-stressed plants, most of the observed differences were quantitative. In particular, proline and hydroxyproline accumulated dramatically in response to water stress, but not in response to aphid infestation. Some additional differences and commonalities between the two stress treatments are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Antifeedant Activity of Ginkgo biloba Secondary Metabolites against Hyphantria cunea Larvae: Mechanisms and Applications]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dacfab0ee8fa60bb5a35

Ginkgo biloba is a typical relic plant that rarely suffers from pest hazards. This study analyzed the pattern of G. biloba pest hazards in Beijing; tested the antifeedant activity of G. biloba extracts, including ginkgo flavonoids, ginkgolide, and bilobalide, against Hyphantria cunea larvae; determined the activities of glutathione transferase (GSTs), acetylcholinesterase (AChE), carboxylesterase (CarE) and mixed-functional oxidase (MFO), in larvae after feeding on these G. biloba secondary metabolites; and screened for effective botanical antifeedants in the field. In this study, no indicators of insect infestation were found for any of the examined leaves of G. biloba; all tested secondary metabolites showed significant antifeedant activity and affected the activity of the four larval detoxifying enzymes. Ginkgolide had the highest antifeedant activity and the most significant effect on the detoxifying enzymes (P<0.05). Spraying leaves with G. biloba extracts or ginkgolide both significantly repelled H. cunea larvae in the field (P<0.05), although the former is more economical and practical. This study investigated the antifeedant activity of G. biloba secondary metabolites against H. cunea larvae, and the results provide new insights into the mechanism of G. biloba pest resistance. This study also developed new applications of G. biloba secondary metabolites for effective pest control.

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<![CDATA[Root Foraging Influences Plant Growth Responses to Earthworm Foraging]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da10ab0ee8fa60b79594

Interactions among the foraging behaviours of co-occurring animal species can impact population and community dynamics; the consequences of interactions between plant and animal foraging behaviours have received less attention. In North American forests, invasions by European earthworms have led to substantial changes in plant community composition. Changes in leaf litter have been identified as a critical indirect mechanism driving earthworm impacts on plants. However, there has been limited examination of the direct effects of earthworm burrowing on plant growth. Here we show a novel second pathway exists, whereby earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris L.) impact plant root foraging. In a mini-rhizotron experiment, roots occurred more frequently in burrows and soil cracks than in the soil matrix. The roots of Achillea millefolium L. preferentially occupied earthworm burrows, where nutrient availability was presumably higher than in cracks due to earthworm excreta. In contrast, the roots of Campanula rotundifolia L. were less likely to occur in burrows. This shift in root behaviour was associated with a 30% decline in the overall biomass of C. rotundifolia when earthworms were present. Our results indicate earthworm impacts on plant foraging can occur indirectly via physical and chemical changes to the soil and directly via root consumption or abrasion and thus may be one factor influencing plant growth and community change following earthworm invasion. More generally, this work demonstrates the potential for interactions to occur between the foraging behaviours of plants and soil animals and emphasizes the importance of integrating behavioural understanding in foraging studies involving plants.

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<![CDATA[Whitefly attraction to rosemary (Rosmarinus officinialis L.) is associated with volatile composition and quantity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf799

Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) is an important insect pest, causing severe damage to agricultural crops. The pest was recorded in a commercial rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, Lamiaceae) field, colonizing rosemary variety (var.) '2', but not '11'. A series of field and controlled laboratory choice bioassays confirmed the observed phenomenon. Mature potted plants of the two varieties were randomly organized in a lemon verbena (Lippia citrodora) and lemon grass (Cymbopogon spp.) fields. Seven days later var. '2' was significantly more colonized by whiteflies than var. '11'. Under lab conditions, whiteflies were significantly more attracted to var. '2' plantlets than to var. '11' following choice bioassays. Furthermore, cotton plants dipped in an essential oil emulsion of var. '2' had significantly greater colonization than cotton plants dipped in the essential oil emulsion of var. '11'. Similar results were obtained in 'plant-plant', 'plant-no plant' as well as, 'essential oil—essential oil' choice bioassay designs. Analyses of the essential oils of the two varieties identified a set of common and unique volatiles in each variety. Among these volatiles were β-caryophyllene and limonene, two compounds known to be associated with plant-insect interactions. The attraction of B. tabaci to pure (>95%) β-caryophyllene and limonene using a range of concentrations was examined in vitro by choice bioassays. The compounds were attractive to the insect at moderate concentration, but not at the lowest or highest concentrations used, where the insect was not attracted or repelled, respectively. Limonene attracted the insects at rates that were 10-fold lower than β-caryophyllene. The results emphasized the role of host plant volatiles in shaping the structure of B. tabaci populations in nature and in agricultural systems, and provided insights into the factors that contribute to the development of insect populations with unique characteristics. The results could also serve for future development of bio-pesticides and in breeding programs.

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<![CDATA[The Nutritional Balancing Act of a Large Herbivore: An Experiment with Captive Moose (Alces alces L)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db06ab0ee8fa60bc86fc

The nutrient balancing hypothesis proposes that, when sufficient food is available, the primary goal of animal diet selection is to obtain a nutritionally balanced diet. This hypothesis can be tested using the Geometric Framework for nutrition (GF). The GF enables researchers to study patterns of nutrient intake (e.g. macronutrients; protein, carbohydrates, fat), interactions between the different nutrients, and how an animal resolves the potential conflict between over-eating one or more nutrients and under-eating others during periods of dietary imbalance. Using the moose (Alces alces L.), a model species in the development of herbivore foraging theory, we conducted a feeding experiment guided by the GF, combining continuous observations of six captive moose with analysis of the macronutritional composition of foods. We identified the moose’s self-selected macronutrient target by allowing them to compose a diet by mixing two nutritionally complementary pellet types plus limited access to Salix browse. Such periods of free choice were intermixed with periods when they were restricted to one of the two pellet types plus Salix browse. Our observations of food intake by moose given free choice lend support to the nutrient balancing hypothesis, as the moose combined the foods in specific proportions that provided a particular ratio and amount of macronutrients. When restricted to either of two diets comprising a single pellet type, the moose i) maintained a relatively stable intake of non-protein energy while allowing protein intakes to vary with food composition, and ii) increased their intake of the food item that most closely resembled the self-selected macronutrient intake from the free choice periods, namely Salix browse. We place our results in the context of the nutritional strategy of the moose, ruminant physiology and the categorization of food quality.

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<![CDATA[Algal Turf Sediments and Sediment Production by Parrotfishes across the Continental Shelf of the Northern Great Barrier Reef]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc91a

Sediments are found in the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) of all coral reefs and play important roles in ecological processes. Although we have some understanding of patterns of EAM sediments across individual reefs, our knowledge of patterns across broader spatial scales is limited. We used an underwater vacuum sampler to quantify patterns in two of the most ecologically relevant factors of EAM sediments across the Great Barrier Reef: total load and grain size distribution. We compare these patterns with rates of sediment production and reworking by parrotfishes to gain insights into the potential contribution of parrotfishes to EAM sediments. Inner-shelf reef EAMs had the highest sediment loads with a mean of 864.1 g m-2, compared to 126.8 g m-2 and 287.4 g m-2 on mid- and outer-shelf reefs, respectively. High sediment loads were expected on inner-shelf reefs due to their proximity to the mainland, however, terrigenous siliceous sediments only accounted for 13–24% of total mass. On inner-shelf reef crests parrotfishes would take three months to produce the equivalent mass of sediment found in the EAM. On the outer-shelf it would take just three days, suggesting that inner-shelf EAMs are characterised by low rates of sediment turnover. By contrast, on-reef sediment production by parrotfishes is high on outer-shelf crests. However, exposure to oceanic swells means that much of this production is likely to be lost. Hydrodynamic activity also appears to structure sediment patterns at within-reef scales, with coarser sediments (> 250 μm) typifying exposed reef crest EAMs, and finer sediments (< 250 μm) typifying sheltered back-reef EAMs. As both the load and grain size of EAM sediments mediate a number of important ecological processes on coral reefs, the observed sediment gradients are likely to play a key role in the structure and function of the associated coral reef communities.

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<![CDATA[Herbivore-Induced DNA Demethylation Changes Floral Signalling and Attractiveness to Pollinators in Brassica rapa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da46ab0ee8fa60b8bef2

Plants have to fine-tune their signals to optimise the trade-off between herbivore deterrence and pollinator attraction. An important mechanism in mediating plant-insect interactions is the regulation of gene expression via DNA methylation. However, the effect of herbivore-induced DNA methylation changes on pollinator-relevant plant signalling has not been systematically investigated. Here, we assessed the impact of foliar herbivory on DNA methylation and floral traits in the model crop plant Brassica rapa. Methylation-sensitive amplified fragment length polymorphism (MSAP) analysis showed that leaf damage by the caterpillar Pieris brassicae was associated with genome-wide methylation changes in both leaves and flowers of B. rapa as well as a downturn in flower number, morphology and scent. A comparison to plants with jasmonic acid-induced defence showed similar demethylation patterns in leaves, but both the floral methylome and phenotype differed significantly from P. brassicae infested plants. Standardised genome-wide demethylation with 5-azacytidine in five different B. rapa full-sib groups further resulted in a genotype-specific downturn of floral morphology and scent, which significantly reduced the attractiveness of the plants to the pollinator bee Bombus terrestris. These results suggest that DNA methylation plays an important role in adjusting plant signalling in response to changing insect communities.

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<![CDATA[Minimal Effects of an Invasive Flowering Shrub on the Pollinator Community of Native Forbs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da95ab0ee8fa60ba1655

Biological invasions can strongly influence species interactions such as pollination. Most of the documented effects of exotic plant species on plant-pollinator interactions have been observational studies using single pairs of native and exotic plants, and have focused on dominant exotic plant species. We know little about how exotic plants alter interactions in entire communities of plants and pollinators, especially at low to medium invader densities. In this study, we began to address these gaps by experimentally removing the flowers of a showy invasive shrub, Rosa multiflora, and evaluating its effects on the frequency, richness, and composition of bee visitors to co-flowering native plants. We found that while R. multiflora increased plot-level richness of bee visitors to co-flowering native plant species at some sites, its presence had no significant effects on bee visitation rate, visitor richness, bee community composition, or abundance overall. In addition, we found that compared to co-flowering natives, R. multiflora was a generalist plant that primarily received visits from generalist bee species shared with native plant species. Our results suggest that exotic plants such as R. multiflora may facilitate native plant pollination in a community context by attracting a more diverse assemblage of pollinators, but have limited and idiosyncratic effects on the resident plant-pollinator network in general.

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