How generalist herbivores exploit belowground plant diversity in temperate grasslands.
Bottom Line: Belowground herbivores impact plant performance, thereby inducing changes in plant community composition, which potentially leads to cascading effects onto higher trophic levels and ecosystem processes and productivity.Poaceae, although assumed to be most preferred, had an intermediate position.This needs to be considered when analysing soil herbivore-plant interactions.
Affiliation: Mountain Agriculture Research Unit, Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstraße 25, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.Show MeSH
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Mentions: The preference of the Agriotes larvae for specific plant taxa changed over the season (full-season data set only; Fig. 4): P. lanceolata was preferred throughout the investigated period in both grassland sites, except for one sampling date in August in grassland 1. Taraxacum officinale and A. millefolium were preferred most of the time, whereas for T. repens and T. pratense the opposite was true. Poaceae, albeit highly abundant, were preferred at a few dates only, in grassland 1 (May–July and October) and Apiaceae were not liked at all. When comparing the general pattern of specific preferences on the targeted plant taxa between the two grasslands, there was more alternation in the dietary choice of wireworms in grassland 1 so that in the end all target plants but the Apiaceae were preferred at least at one date. In grassland 2, the preference pattern was more uniformly with a preference for P. lanceolata during the entire season and an avoidance of the Poaceae and Apiaceae.
Affiliation: Mountain Agriculture Research Unit, Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstraße 25, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.