5 years ago

Plant genotype identity and diversity interact with mesograzer species diversity to influence detrital consumption in eelgrass meadows

John J. Stachowicz, Laura K. Reynolds, Susan L. Williams, Elena Huynh, Kendra M. Chan
Seagrass meadows are among the world's most productive ecosystems, and as in many other systems, genetic diversity is correlated with increased production. However, only a small fraction of seagrass production is directly consumed, and instead much of the secondary production is fueled by the detrital food web. Here, we study the roles of plant genetic diversity and grazer species diversity on detrital consumption in California eelgrass Zostera marina meadows. We used three common mesograzers—an amphipod, Ampithoe lacertosa, an isopod, Idotea resecata, and a polychaete, Platynereis bicaniculata. Each grazer consumed eelgrass detritus at rates greater than live eelgrass or macroalgae. This detrital consumption, however, was not spread evenly over leaves shed from different eelgrass clones. Palatability and consumption varied because of genotype specific differences in leaf texture, secondary metabolites (phenolics), and nutritional quality (nitrogen). Further, detritus derived from some eelgrass genotypes was palatable to all grazers, while detritus from other genotypes was preferentially consumed by only one grazer species. Under monospecific grazer assemblages, plant genetic identity but not diversity influenced detritus consumption. However, more realistic, diverse mesoconsumer communities combined with high plant-detrital genotypic diversity resulted in greater consumption and grazer survival. These results provide a mechanism for field observations of increased mesograzer density and diversity in genetically diverse seagrass assemblages and offer a potential explanation for variation in results of resource diversity-detrital processing experiments in the literature, which often exclude macroinvertebrate taxa. More broadly, our findings support the emerging principle that biodiversity effects are strongest when diversity in both consumer and resource taxa are present. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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

DOI: 10.1111/oik.04471

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