5 years ago

Latitudinal variation in plant chemical defences drives latitudinal patterns of leaf herbivory

Sergio Rasmann, Hans Henrik Bruun, Bastien Castagneyrol, Felisa Covelo, Luis Abdala-Roberts, Gaétan Glauser, Jorge C. Berny-Mier y Teran, Ayco J.M. Tack, Bart G.H. Timmermans, Xoaquín Moreira
A long-standing paradigm in ecology holds that herbivore pressure and thus plant defences increase towards lower latitudes. However, recent work has challenged this prediction where studies have found no relationship or opposite trends where herbivory or plant defences increase at higher latitudes. Here we tested for latitudinal variation in herbivory, chemical defences (phenolic compounds), and nutritional traits (phosphorus and nitrogen) in leaves of a long-lived tree species, the English oak Quercus robur. We further investigated the underlying climatic and soil factors associated with such variation. Across 38 populations of Q. robur distributed along an 18° latitudinal gradient, covering almost the entire latitudinal and climatic range of this species, we observed strong but divergent latitudinal gradients in leaf herbivory and leaf chemical defences and nutrients. As expected, there was a negative relationship between latitude and leaf herbivory where oak populations from lower latitudes exhibited higher levels of leaf herbivory. However, counter to predictions there was a positive relationship between leaf chemical defences and latitude where populations at higher latitudes were better defended. Similarly, leaf phosphorus and nitrogen increased with latitude. Path analysis indicated a significant (negative) effect of plant chemical defences (condensed tannins) on leaf herbivory, suggesting that the latitudinal gradient in leaf herbivory was driven by an inverse gradient in defensive investment. Leaf nutrients had no independent influence on herbivory. Further, we found significant indirect effects of precipitation and soil porosity on leaf herbivory, which were mediated by plant chemical defences. These findings suggest that abiotic factors shape latitudinal variation in plant defences and that these defences in turn underlie latitudinal variation in leaf herbivory. Overall, this study contributes to a better understanding of latitudinal variation in plant-herbivore interactions by determining the identity and modus operandi of abiotic factors concurrently shaping plant defences and herbivory. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/ecog.03326

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.