Small birches escape from insect damage

Vitali Zverev, Elena L. Zvereva and Mikhail V. Kozlov Plants carry out many functions that provide humans with oxygen, food, fibre and fuel, but their effectiveness in performing these roles is affected by herbivores, like insects, that consume them. Therefore, understanding why some plants suffer more damage from insects than their neighbours is important. Downy…

Reindeer grazing influences tundra plant nutrient uptake

Hélène Barthelemy, Sari Stark, Minna-Maarit Kytoviita and Johan Olofsson The Arctic tundra is a vast and pristine landscape under harsh climate. Due to low temperature and short summers, decomposition and mineralisation of organic matter in the soil is very slow. Plant growth is thus strongly limited by the availability of nutrients, especially soil nitrogen. Plant…

Localized conifer defensive responses to bark beetle attacks

Charles J. Mason, Caterina Villari, Ken Keefover-Ring, Stephanie Jagemann, Jun Zhu, Pierluigi Bonello, Kenneth F. Raffa Plants face multiple biological threats that can adversely affect their growth, reproduction and survival. They defend themselves from herbivores and pathogens by integrated chemical and physical defenses. These defenses can be constitutively present, heightened upon injury, or in some…

Individual and non-additive effects of exotic sap-feeders on root functional and mycorrhizal traits of a shared conifer host

Robert N. Schaeffer, Claire M. Wilson, Laura Radville, Mauri Barrett, Elizabeth Whitney, Sofia Roitman, Esther R. Miller, Benjamin E. Wolfe, Carol S. Thornber, Colin M. Orians, Evan L. Preisser Forest pests, exotic and native, are pervasive agents of tree stress and mortality worldwide. Their impacts are mediated through disruption of host functional traits that are…

REVIEW: Seed predation & plant community theory

Loralee Larios, Dean E. Pearson and John L. Maron Community ecologists seek to understand the relative strength of local processes in determining the identity and number of species that establish in any given location. Increasingly, plant ecologists have focused on plant traits and how these may determine which species can live together and which species…

Predicting the consequences of disperser extinction: richness matters the most when abundance is low

Beatriz Rumeu, Mariano Devoto, Anna Traveset, Jens M. Olesen, Pablo Vargas, Manuel Nogales and Ruben Heleno The ongoing rapid loss of biodiversity often entails replacement of disturbance-sensitive species by disturbance-tolerant ones and thus disruption of the ecosystem functions they provide. In this line, the loss of fruit-eating (frugivorous) animals may negatively affect the long-term persistence…

Plant defense negates pathogen manipulation of vector behavior

Baiming Liu, Evan L. Preisser, Xiaobin Shi, Huaitong Wu, Chuanyou Li, Wen Xie, Shaoli Wang, Qingjun Wu, Youjun Zhang Many important and economically-damaging plant pathogens are transmitted by insect vectors, and pathogens have been shown to alter vector behavior in ways that promote both their uptake and transmission. In the Tomato yellow leaf curl virus…

“Cagey” trees have safer lives

Tristan Charles-Dominique, Jean-Francois Barczi, Elizabeth Le Roux and Simon Chamaillé-Jammes Where large browsers such as impalas or kudus are abundant, trees survive only if they have chemical or structural defences. Structural defences include the arrangement of dense and intricate architecture, termed ‘cage’ architecture. Previous studies showed that trees developing in herbivore-rich environments tend to have…