To eat or not to eat—relationship of lichen herbivory by snails with secondary compounds and field frequency of lichens

Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus; Prati, Daniel (2015). To eat or not to eat—relationship of lichen herbivory by snails with secondary compounds and field frequency of lichens. Journal of Plant Ecology, 8(6), pp. 642-650. Oxford University Press 10.1093/jpe/rtv005

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Aims The biochemical defense of lichens against herbivores and its relationship to lichen frequency are poorly understood. Therefore, we tested whether chemical compounds in lichens act as feeding defense or rather as stimulus for snail herbivory among lichens and whether experimental feeding by snails is related to lichen frequency in the field. Methods In a no-choice feeding experiment, we fed 24 lichen species to snails of two taxa from the Clausilidae and Enidae families and compared untreated lichens and lichens with compounds removed by acetone rinsing. Then, we related experimental lichen consumption with the frequency of lichen species among 158 forest plots in the field (Schwäbische Alb, Germany), where we had also sampled snail and lichen species. Important findings In five lichen species, snails preferred treated samples over untreated controls, indicating chemical feeding defense, and vice versa in two species, indicating chemical feeding stimulus. Interestingly, compared with less frequent lichen species, snails consumed more of untreated and less of treated samples of more frequent lichen species. Removing one outlier species resulted in the loss of a significant positive relationship when untreated samples were analyzed separately. However, the interaction between treatment and lichen frequency remained significant when excluding single species or including snail genus instead of taxa, indicating that our results were robust and that lumping the species to two taxa was justified. Our results imply lichen-feeding snails to prefer frequent lichens and avoid less frequent ones because of secondary compound recognition. This supports the idea that consumers adapt to the most abundant food source.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus and Prati, Daniel

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1752-9921

Publisher:

Oxford University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

03 Dec 2015 11:59

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 08:42

Publisher DOI:

10.1093/jpe/rtv005

Uncontrolled Keywords:

acetone rinsing, biodiversity, exploratories, defense strategies, gastropoda, herbivore resistance, lichenivory, mollusk grazing, plant–animal interaction

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.73375

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/73375

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