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Experimental small-scale grassland fragmentation alters aphid population dynamics

Braschler, B. and Lampel, G. and Baur, B.. (2003) Experimental small-scale grassland fragmentation alters aphid population dynamics. Oikos, 100, H. 3. pp. 581-591.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A3238513

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Abstract

Blattläuse im Untersuchungsgebiet Nenzlinger Weide The effect of low host plant nitrogen (N) content on herbivore performance has rarely been studied together with the herbivore`s feeding behaviour. We explored this relationship with juvenile Omocestus viridulus (Orthoptera: Acrididae) grasshoppers using fertilized and unfertilized host grasses. Due to lower growth rates, grasshoppers reared on N-poor grasses exhibited slightly prolonged development and smaller adult size, while mortality was similar among the fertilizer treatments. This was found both in the laboratory and in outdoor cages under natural climatic conditions. A parallel analysis of feeding behaviour revealed that the grasshoppers counterbalance N shortage by compensatory feeding, and are capable of selectively feeding among grasses of contrasting nutritional quality when given a choice. This indicates a striking ability of O. viridulus to regulate nutrient intake in the face of imbalanced food sources. Although the species exploits a relatively very poor autotroph nutrient base in the wild, as underpinned by N analysis of natural host grasses and grasshopper tissue, our data suggest that natural food quality imposes no relevant constraint on the herbivore`s performance. Our study thus challenges the importance of simple plant-mediated control of herbivore populations, such as N limitation, but supports the view that herbivores balance their intake of N and energy.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Natur- Landschafts- und Umweltschutz > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Baur, Bruno
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Blackwell
ISSN:0030-1299
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
Last Modified:14 Sep 2012 06:54
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:03

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