+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
EurekaMag Most Shared ContentMost Shared
EurekaMag PDF Full Text ContentPDF Full Text
+ PDF Full Text
Request PDF Full TextRequest PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on FacebookFollow on Facebook
Follow on TwitterFollow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedInFollow on LinkedIn

+ Translate

Plant-herbivore interactions in Alaskan arctic tundra change with soil nutrient availability

Plant-herbivore interactions in Alaskan arctic tundra change with soil nutrient availability

Oikos acta oecologica Scandinavica 116(3): 407-418

Herbivores in nutrient-limited systems such as arctic tundra have been suggested to play a minor role in controlling plant growth simply because they are relatively few in number. However, theory predicts that as net primary productivity (NPP) increases because of greater inputs of nutrients or energy, herbivores may have greater effects on plant growth. This prediction has not been tested in the context of climate warming in arctic tundra, which may increase soil nutrient availability and thus NPP. We examined a long-term experiment that excluded small and large mammalian herbivores and increased soil nutrients in two arctic Alaskan tundra communities: dry heath (DH) and moist acidic tussock (MAT). In the ninth year of manipulations, we measured weekly growth of three plant species of three growth forms: tussock-forming graminoid, rhizomatous graminoid, and dwarf deciduous shrub, in each community. All species grew better when fertilized. In DH, this increase in growth was exaggerated when plants were protected from herbivores, confirming that herbivory had a negative effect on plant growth under increased nutrient conditions, but was unimportant under ambient soil conditions. However, in MAT, the importance of herbivory differed among species with fertilization. The tussock-forming sedge at MAT, Eriophorum vaginatum, grew better and flowered more when fenced under both ambient and amended nutrients compared to plants exposed to herbivores. This species decreases in abundance in long-term fertilized plots when mammals are present, and our results suggest that herbivory may be accounting for at least some of that loss, in addition to shifts in competitive relationships. Although we only focused on individual plants here rather than the entire community, our results suggest that under the increased soil nutrient conditions expected with continued climate warming in the Arctic, herbivores may become more important in affecting several abundant tundra plant populations, and should not be ignored.

(PDF emailed within 0-6 h: $19.90)

Accession: 013003188

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2007.15449.x

Related references

Deeper snow alters soil nutrient availability and leaf nutrient status in high Arctic tundra. Biogeochemistry 124(1-3): 81-94, 2015

Vascular plant species richness in Alaskan arctic tundra: The importance of soil pH. Journal of Ecology 88(1): 54-66, 2000

Effects of simulated climate change on plant phenology and nitrogen mineralization in Alaskan arctic Tundra. Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research 40(1): 27-38, 2008

Plant carbon-nutrient interactions control CO2 exchange in Alaskan wet sedge tundra ecosystems. Ecology 81(2): 453-469, 2000

Soil microbial responses to herbivory in an arctic tundra heath at two levels of nutrient availability. Ecology (Washington D C) 83(10): 2736-2744, October, 2002

Soil bacterial community composition altered by increased nutrient availability in Arctic tundra soils. Frontiers in Microbiology 5: 516-516, 2014

Tree islands in a sea of arctic tundra Soil C pools, forest change, and N availability. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Abstracts 87: 275, 2002

The Effects of Snow, Soil Microenvironment, and Soil Organic Matter Quality on N Availability in Three Alaskan Arctic Plant Communities. Ecosystems 14(5): 804-817, 2011

Soil microbial biomass, nutrient availability and nitrogen mineralization potential among vegetation-types in a low arctic tundra landscape. Plant and Soil 329(1-2): 411-420, 2010

Vascular plant diversity in Alaskan Arctic tundra. Northwest Environmental Journal 8(1): 29-52, 1992

Experimental investigation of vegetation and cryoturbation interactions in Alaskan Arctic tundra. Arctic Science Conference Abstracts 53: 128, 2002

Food plant selection by insect herbivores in Alaskan Arctic tundra: the role of plant life form. Oikos, 441: 211-221, 1985

Nitrogen supply effects on leaf dynamics and nutrient input into the soil of plant species in a sub-arctic tundra ecosystem. Polar Biology 32(2): 207-214, 2009

Changes in soil properties and vegetation following disturbance of Alaskan arctic tundra. Journal of Applied Ecology 18(2): 605-617, 1981

Changes in soil properties and vegetation following disturbance of alaskan usa arctic tundra. Journal of Applied Ecology 18(2): 605-618, 1981