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Invertebrate herbivory on the submerged macrophyte Potamogeton perfoliatus in a Danish stream

Freshwater Biology 31(1): 43-52
Invertebrate herbivory on the submerged macrophyte Potamogeton perfoliatus in a Danish stream
1. Invertebrate herbivory on the submerged macrophyte Potamogeton perfoliatus was studied in a Danish lowland stream during the main growth seasons of summer 1991 and 1992. Young apical leaves escaped consumption probably because of their location and dense packing, but herbivory loss increased linearly with age and exposure time of older leaves. Nitrogen content was relatively high in both young (4.61% DW) and old leaves (3.65% DW) but a food preference experiment showed that young leaves were preferred by the main herbivore, the trichopteran Anabolia nervosa. 2. The percentage of standing plant biomass lost to herbivory (the apparent loss) between sampling periods increased from early May to a mid-June maximum (24.8% in 1991, 4.2% in 1992), and subsequently declined to zero within a month. The averages for the growth seasons were 10.5% in 1991 and 2.0% in 1992. Yet, the proportions of annual plant production harvested by herbivores were low and almost the same (1.3 and 1.8%) because consumption was low when plant production peaked in late summer. Consumption was almost the same early in the two years, but plant growth dynamics differed markedly and was the main factor determining apparent herbivory loss. 3. Despite heavy damage early in the summer, P. perfoliatus contributed a minor fraction (1-5%) of the trichopteran diet. This fraction appeared to be restricted by the low macrophyte biomass during early summer. 4. The results emphasize that apparent herbivory loss does not estimate the harvested proportion of plant production, and that plant growth dynamics should be analysed to attain precise estimates of herbivory rates.

Accession: 002416666

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.1994.tb00837.x

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