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Schlinkert H.,University of Gottingen | Westphal C.,University of Gottingen | Clough Y.,University of Gottingen | Clough Y.,Center for Environmental and Climate Research | And 4 more authors.
Oecologia | Year: 2015

Plant size is a major predictor of ecological functioning. We tested the hypothesis that feeding damage to plants increases with plant size, as the conspicuousness of large plants makes resource finding and colonisation easier. Further, large plants can be attractive to herbivores, as they offer greater amounts and ranges of resources and niches, but direct evidence from experiments testing size effects on feeding damage and consequently on plant fitness is so far missing. We established a common garden experiment with a plant size gradient (10–130 cm height) using 21 annual Brassicaceae species, and quantified plant size, biomass and number of all aboveground components (flowers, fruits, leaves, stems) and their proportional feeding damage. Plant reproductive fitness was measured using seed number, 1000 seed weight and total seed weight. Feeding damage to the different plant components increased with plant size or component biomass, with mean damage levels being approximately 30 % for flowers, 5 % for fruits and 1 % for leaves and stems. Feeding damage affected plant reproductive fitness depending on feeding damage type, with flower damage having the strongest effect, shown by greatly reduced seed number, 1000 seed weight and total seed weight. Finally, we found an overall negative effect of plant size on 1000 seed weight, but not on seed number and total seed weight. In conclusion, being conspicuous and attractive to herbivores causes greater flower damage leading to higher fitness costs for large plants, which might be partly counterbalanced by benefits such as enhanced competitive/compensatory abilities or more mutualistic pollinator visits. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

Schlinkert H.,University of Gottingen | Westphal C.,University of Gottingen | Clough Y.,University of Gottingen | Clough Y.,Center for Environmental and Climate Research | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Large plants are often more conspicuous and more attractive for associated animals than small plants, e.g. due to their wider range of resources. Therefore, plant size can positively affect species richness of associated animals, as shown for single groups of herbivores, but studies usually consider intraspecific size differences of plants in unstandardised environments. As comprehensive tests of interspecific plant size differences under standardised conditions are missing so far, we investigated effects of plant size on species richness of all associated arthropods using a common garden experiment with 21 Brassicaceae species covering a broad interspecific plant size gradient from 10 to 130 cm height. We recorded plant associated ecto- and endophagous herbivores, their natural enemies and pollinators on and in each aboveground plant organ, i.e. flowers, fruits, leaves and stems. Plant size (measured as height from the ground), the number of different plant organ entities and their biomass were assessed. Increasing plant size led to increased species richness of associated herbivores, natural enemies and pollinating insects. This pattern was found for ectophagous and endophagous herbivores, their natural enemies, as well as for herbivores associated with leaves and fruits and their natural enemies, independently of the additional positive effects of resource availability (i.e. organ biomass or number of entities and, regarding natural enemies, herbivore species richness). We found a lower R2 for pollinators compared to herbivores and natural enemies, probably caused by the high importance of flower characteristics for pollinator species richness besides plant size. Overall, the increase in plant height from 10 to 130 cm led to a 2.7-fold increase in predicted total arthropod species richness. In conclusion, plant size is a comprehensive driver of species richness of the plant associated arthropods, including pollinators, herbivores and their natural enemies, whether they are endophagous or ectophagous or associated with leaves or fruits. © 2015 Schlinkert et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

Birkhofer K.,Lund University | Arvidsson F.,Lund University | Ehlers D.,Luneburg University | Mader V.L.,Justus Liebig University | And 3 more authors.
Landscape Ecology | Year: 2016

Context: Hemipteran pests cause significant yield losses in European cereal fields. It has been suggested that local management interventions to promote natural enemies are most successful in simple landscapes that are dominated by large arable fields. Objectives: We study how farming category (conventional, new and old organic fields) and landscape complexity affect pests, natural enemies and biological control services in spring barley. We further analyse if yields are related to pest infestation or biological control services. Methods: The amount of pasture and the length of field borders were used to define landscape complexity around barley fields in Southern Sweden. Arthropods were sampled with an insect suction sampler and predation and parasitism services were estimated by field observations and inspections of pest individuals. Results: Pest infestation was affected by landscape complexity, with higher aphid, but lower leafhopper numbers in more complex landscapes. Aphid predation was higher under organic farming and affected by effects on predator abundance and community composition independent of landscape complexity. Auchenorrhyncha parasitism was neither significantly affected by landscape complexity nor by farming category. Higher aphid predation rates and lower aphid densities were characteristic for organically managed fields with higher barley yields. Conclusions: Our results suggest that it is possible to increase both aphid biological control services and barley yield via local management effects on predator communities independent of landscape complexity. However, the success of such management practices is highly dependent on the pest and natural enemy taxa and the nature of the trophic interaction. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Guillemain M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Poysa H.,Finnish Game And Fisheries Research Institute | Fox A.D.,University of Aarhus | Arzel C.,University of Turku | And 9 more authors.
Wildlife Biology | Year: 2013

The consequences of climate change for bird populations have received much attention in recent decades, especially amongst cavity-nesting songbirds, yet little has been written on ducks (Anatidae) despite these being major elements of wetland diversity and important quarry species. This paper reviews the major known consequences of climate change for birds in general, and relates these to the limited information available specifically for ducks. Climate change can influence migration distance and phenology, potentially affecting patterns of mortality, as well as distribution and reproductive success in ducks. Studies addressing effects of climate change are, however, restricted to very few duck species, including mallard Anas platyrhynchos and common eider Somateria mollissima. Shifts in winter duck distributions have been observed, whereas the mismatch hypothesis (mistiming between the periods of peak energy requirements for young and the peak of seasonal food availability) has received limited support with regard to ducks. We propose a range of monitoring initiatives, including population surveys, breeding success monitoring schemes and individual duck marking, which should later be integrated through population modelling and adaptive management to fill these gaps. © Wildlife Biology, NKV. Source

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