The silicon and nitrogen concentrations in wildflowers and grasses vary under different water conditions

Marius Klotz, Jörg Schaller, Heike Feldhaar, Jürgen Dengler, Gerhard Gebauer, Gregor Aas, Anita Weissflog, Bettina M. J. Engelbrecht This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Wildflower and grass species have to cope with unfavourable conditions, such as drought and flooding. This causes stress to which plants respond by adjusting their growth and nutrient content. Understanding … Continue reading The silicon and nitrogen concentrations in wildflowers and grasses vary under different water conditions

High CO2 helps savanna trees escape fatal herbivory

Brad S. Ripley, Sarah L. Raubenheimer, Lavinia Perumal, Maurice Anderson, Emma Mostert, Barney S. Kgope, Guy F. Midgley, Kimberley J. Simpson This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. When you picture a savanna in your mind, you likely think of a wide and open tropical scene dominated by grasses with a scattering of trees. However … Continue reading High CO2 helps savanna trees escape fatal herbivory

Insect associated microbes and plant defense interact to modulate the performance of a caterpillar

Guillaume Minard, Aapo Kahilainen, Arjen Biere, Hannu Pakkanen, Johanna Mappes, Marjo Saastamoinen This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Plants tend to express some pattern of physical or chemical defenses that protects them against their natural enemies. Many specialist herbivores have evolved strategies to cope with such plant defenses. Their gut microbiota (i.e. the microbes … Continue reading Insect associated microbes and plant defense interact to modulate the performance of a caterpillar

Similar or dissimilar: Elevation and temperature explain contrasting trends among various chemicals in leaves of alpine willows

Martin Volf, Tereza Volfová, Elvira Hörandl, Natascha D. Wagner, Niko Luntamo, Juha-Pekka Salminen, Brian E. Sedio This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Plants produce an astonishing diversity of chemical compounds. Those with specialized functions are called specialized metabolites and they defend plants from natural enemies or adverse environmental conditions, such as low temperatures, or … Continue reading Similar or dissimilar: Elevation and temperature explain contrasting trends among various chemicals in leaves of alpine willows

Effect of water availability on volatile-mediated communication between potato plants in response to insect herbivory

Carla Vázquez-González, Laura Pombo-Salinas, Lucía Martín-Cacheda, Sergio Rasmann, Gregory Röder, Luis Abdala-Roberts, Kailen A. Mooney, Xoaquín Moreira This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Plants can perceive and respond to complex blends of above- or belowground volatile organic compounds (‘VOCs’) emitted by herbivore-damaged neighbours, a phenomenon termed ‘plant communication’. Such chemical cues act as warning … Continue reading Effect of water availability on volatile-mediated communication between potato plants in response to insect herbivory

Overview of plants grown in the cage with grasshoppers. PLS photo credit: Liu lab (www.plantecology.cn/)

Herbivory may mediate the effects of nutrient fluctuations on plant invasion

Yanjun Li, Yingzhi Gao, Mark van Kleunen, Yanjie Liu This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. It is frequently assumed that environmental variability could promote alien plant invasion, because the fluctuating resource hypothesis predicts that habitats with increased variability in resource availability will be more easily invaded than those with less variable resource conditions. Many studies … Continue reading Herbivory may mediate the effects of nutrient fluctuations on plant invasion

A specialist leaf beetle, Gastrophysa atrocyanea, feeding on bitter dock, Rumex obtusifolius. Photograph by Haruna Ohsaki.

Novel mechanism in resource concentration hypotheses: the density of host plants alters quality of food for leaf beetles

This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article. Read the research in full here. Haruna Ohsaki, Atsuko Miyagi, Maki Kawai-Yamada, Akira Yamawo Understanding how the distribution of organisms is determined is one of the goals of ecologists. For plant-eating insects (herbivores), it was thought that their distributions depend on the density of the host plants. The resource concentration hypothesis, one of … Continue reading Novel mechanism in resource concentration hypotheses: the density of host plants alters quality of food for leaf beetles

A pseudo-coloured X-ray map (200x) of a cotton bollworm mandible indicating A) intact (red) or B) degraded incisors as a result of feeding on plants A) without or B) with silicon supply. The incisors are the effective cutting edge of the caterpillar’s mandibles; thus, an important component of their feeding. Image courtesy of Richard Wuhrer, Advanced Materials Characterisation Facility, Western Sydney University.

Silicon or symbionts? Grasses use both types of anti-herbivore defence

Cibils-Stewart, Ximena; Mace, Wade J. ; Popay, Alison; Lattanzi, Fernando ; Hartley, Susan; Hall, Casey; Powell, Jeff; Johnson, Scott Read the research in full here In addition to sustaining wild and domesticated grazing animals, forage grasses are crucial for carbon sequestration, improving water quality, reducing soil erosion and supporting biodiversity. As with all plants, grasses are attacked by many insect pests, including the cotton bollworm … Continue reading Silicon or symbionts? Grasses use both types of anti-herbivore defence

Network of plant-herbivore interactions used in our study. Orange nodes are plant species, green nodes are herbivore species. Lines indicate associations. CC-BY-SA 4.0 Patrick Strutzenberger.

Which species of caterpillars feed on a certain plant species is determined by the herbivore’s evolutionary history

Patrick Strutzenberger & Konrad Fiedler Read the full article here Insect herbivores have been an active area of research in ecology and evolutionary biology since at least the 1950’s. One of the main questions is how the complement of herbivores on a certain plant species has evolved. We now have extensive knowledge of how plants defend themselves against herbivores with chemical defenses. Many plants have … Continue reading Which species of caterpillars feed on a certain plant species is determined by the herbivore’s evolutionary history

How the threat of predation influences the foraging behaviour or herbivores

Sirot, Etienne; Blanchard, Pierrick; Loison, Anne; Pays, Olivier Herbivores continually adapt their behaviour to cope with a pervasive threat of predation. This is particularly true during foraging periods, when these animals attend areas where predators also concentrate their activity. In the present study we explore the influence of predation threat on an herbivore’s foraging behaviour. Practically, we build a mathematical model to study the shaping … Continue reading How the threat of predation influences the foraging behaviour or herbivores