A Juanita Sphinx (Proserpinus juanita) caterpillar at Konza Prairie in northeastern Kansas. Caterpillars and other plant consumers prefer to eat plants with higher salt content. Photo credit: David Rintoul.

Herbivores and fungal pathogens take it with a grain of salt

Welti, Ellen; Kaspari, Michael Humans, caterpillars, and fungal pathogens agree, food tastes better with a pinch of salt. While humans are omnivores and can obtain sodium when eating animal products like meat and dairy, herbivores and detritivores have fewer salty menu items. This is why porcupines will eat backpackers’ sweaty hiking boots, deer come to salt licks, and sweat bees seek human perspiration. Unlike animals, … Continue reading Herbivores and fungal pathogens take it with a grain of salt

Species-rich temperate grasslands of the Central Europe (the White Carpathians region). Photo credit: Agnes J. Albert.

Weak relationship between leaf drought tolerance and easy-to-measure traits in grassland plants

Majekova, Maria; Hájek, Tomáš; Albert, Agnes; de Bello, Francesco; Dolezal, Jiri; Götzenberger, Lars; Janeček, Štepán; Leps, Jan; Liancourt, Pierre; Mudrák, Ondrej Grasslands are an important ecosystem that sustains much biodiversity. Even in non-arid regions like Western and Central Europe, climate change is predicted to increase the occurrence of extreme drought events. This will decrease the water available for plants and potentially have a negative impact … Continue reading Weak relationship between leaf drought tolerance and easy-to-measure traits in grassland plants

Picture of three micro-plots taken in November 2016 at the Lusignan (France) common garden. An intense period of drought occurred at Lusignan during the summer of 2016. The population sown in the left-hand micro-plot did not survive the drought unlike the two other populations. Credit: Fabien Surault

To grow or to survive: what are the strategies of a perennial grass to face severe seasonal stress?

Thomas Keep, Jean-Paul Sampoux, Philippe Barre, José-Luis Blanco-Pastor, Klaus J. Dehmer, Jean-Louis Durand, Matt Hegarty, Thomas Ledauphin, Hilde Muylle, Isabel Roldán-Ruiz, Tom Ruttink, Fabien Surault, Evelin Willner, Florence Volaire For a given region, the assessment of the vulnerability of a species under predicted climate change should account for within species variability and notably for the diversity of climatic adaptations across populations. Our study compared 385 natural populations of perennial ryegrass which were collected right-across Europe. They were all … Continue reading To grow or to survive: what are the strategies of a perennial grass to face severe seasonal stress?

Effects of plant hydraulic traits on the flammability of live fine canopy fuels

Scarff, Fiona; Lenz, Tanja; Richards, Anna; Zanne, Amy; Wright, Ian; Westoby, Mark Plants need to regulate water content of their tissues, and each species addresses this challenge in its own characteristic way. Different strategies mean that some plants will be wetter during the hot, dry weather associated with wildfires. Wildfires are confined to a smaller area when they burn through moist fuels so, if species … Continue reading Effects of plant hydraulic traits on the flammability of live fine canopy fuels