The effect of snow on plant chemistry and invertebrate herbivory: Experimental manipulations along a natural snow gradient
2010 (English)In: Ecosystems (New York. Print), ISSN 1432-9840, E-ISSN 1435-0629, Vol. 13, no 5, 741-751 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Changing snow conditions have strong effects onnorthern ecosystems, but these effects are rarelyincorporated into ecosystem models and our perceptionof how the ecosystems will respond to awarmer climate. We investigated the relationshipsbetween snow cover, plant phenology, level ofinvertebrate herbivory and leaf chemical traits inBetula nana in four different habitats located along anatural snow cover gradient. To separate the effectof snow per se from other differences, we manipulatedthe snow cover with snow fences in threehabitats. The experimentally prolonged snow coverdelayed plant phenology, but not as much as expectedbased on the pattern along the natural gradient.The positive effect of the snow treatment onplant nitrogen concentration was also weaker thanexpected, because plant nitrogen concentrationclosely followed plant phenology. The level ofherbivory by leaf-chewing invertebrates increasedin response to an increased snow cover, at least atthe end of the growing season. The concentrationof phenolic substances varied among habitats,treatments and sampling occasions, indicating thatB. nana shrubs were able to retain a mosaic ofsecondary chemical quality despite altered snowconditions. This study shows that the effect of thesnow cover period on leaf nitrogen concentrationand level of herbivory can be predicted based ondifferences between habitats, whereas the effect ofa changed plant phenology on plant nitrogenconcentration is better explained by temporaltrends within habitats. These results have importantimplications for how northern ecosystemsshould respond to future climate changes.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2010. Vol. 13, no 5, 741-751 p.
Tundra, snow, natural gradient, experimental manipulation, nitrogen, phenolics, herbivory, phenology, Betula nana
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-30410DOI: 10.1007/s10021-010-9351-4ISI: 000280260100009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-30410DiVA: diva2:282794