University Of Tasmania

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Herbivory differentially alters plant litter dynamics of evergreen and deciduous trees

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 08:36 authored by Chapman, SK, Schweitzer, J, Whitham, TG
Here we propose that herbivore-induced changes in leaf litter quality can modify aboveground litterfall dynamics differentially in evergreen and deciduous trees. Because aboveground plant litterfall is an important source of nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems, any factor that alters plant litter quality can have large "afterlife" effects on the decomposition rate of that litter and the subsequent rate of nutrient release. Two contrasting patterns emerge from the literature and are corroborated by our two experimental case studies. First, in evergreens, herbivory commonly results in premature leaf abscission, improved litter "quality" and an acceleration of litter decomposition. Second, in deciduous trees, herbivory commonly results in the induction of secondary compounds that decelerates decomposition. We argue that these broad patterns reflect predictable differential responses to herbivores that can have important consequences for terrestrial nutrient cycling and productivity and that warrant more attention in the literature. © OIKOS.


Publication title

Oikos: A Journal of Ecology








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Munksgaard

Place of publication

35 Norre Sogade, Po Box 2148, Copenhagen, Denmark, Dk-1016

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems

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