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S. Ibanez Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL Community Ecology Research Unit CH-6500 Bellinzona Switzerland

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M. Bison Université Joseph Fourier Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine UMR CNRS 5553 B.P.53 38041 Grenoble France

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S. Lavorel Université Joseph Fourier Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine UMR CNRS 5553 B.P.53 38041 Grenoble France

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M. Moretti Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL Community Ecology Research Unit CH-6500 Bellinzona Switzerland

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Herbivory is a major driver of plant communities. Most herbivores preferentially consume dominant species and slow down plant succession, but it remains unclear in which ways different herbivore species have contrasting effects on plant communities. In this study, we investigated the extent to which closely related insect herbivores with slight differences in their feeding behaviour induce contrasting reactions in plant communities. We studied the impact of herbivory by two Gomphocerinae grasshopper species, Chorthippus scalaris and Euthystira brachyptera, on the outcome of competition between the plant species Dactylis glomerata and Festuca paniculata. Under a controlled choice experiment, C. scalaris preferentially consumed D. glomerata while E. brachyptera preferred F. paniculata, but in an experimental plant community (mesocosm) both species consumed the plant species proportionally to their abundance and the amount of herbivory marks detected on the leaves did not depend on the specific grasshopper species. The herbivory pressure of both grasshopper species significantly reduced the vegetative height and the number of tillers of F. paniculata, with C. scalaris showing a stronger effect. As a consequence, herbivory by E. brachyptera did not significantly affect interspecific plant competition, whereas C. scalaris enhanced the dominance of D. glomerata. Our study shows that closely related herbivores that only slightly differ in their feeding behaviour can induce contrasting effects on interspecific plant competition, and that the dominant species D. glomerata is more tolerant to herbivory than F. paniculata. The specific plant and herbivore traits responsible for contrasting herbivory effects on plant competition remains to be explored.

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Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
Foundation
2000
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
3
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
Founder's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)