Insect herbivory and grass competition in a calcareous grassland: Results from a plant removal experiment

Emmanuel Corcket, Ragan M. Callaway, Richard Michalet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We compared the effects of herbivory by grasshoppers and neighbourhood competition on two dominant grasses, Bromus erectus and Brachypodium pinnatum, in a calcareous grassland in the French Alps. In a fully factorial design, herbivory was reduced by insecticide spraying and competition was reduced by removal of neighbouring plants. The effects of herbivory and competition were species-dependent. Bromus, a stress-tolerant species, was strongly affected by competition, but not by herbivory. In contrast, the more competitive species, Brachypodium, was negatively affected by herbivory, but only when neighbouring vegetation was removed. The greatest herbivory pressure on isolated targets of Brachypodium is likely to be due to the indirect effects of experimental gaps, i.e. more favourable microclimatic and foraging conditions for grasshoppers. This suggests that herbivory by insects may be a confounding factor in many plant removal experiments. Field experiments designed to study the combined effects of competition and herbivory should take into account the indirect effects induced by experimental gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalActa Oecologica
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2003

Keywords

  • Brachypodium pinnatum
  • Bromus erectus
  • Competition
  • Grasshopper
  • Removal experiment

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