Warming mediates the relationship between plant nutritional properties and herbivore functional responses

Meng Xu, Jaimie T. A. Dick, Anthony Ricciardi, Miao Fang, Canyu Zhang, Dangen Gu, Xidong Mu, Du Luo, Hui Wei, Yinchang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
226 Downloads (Pure)


Quantifying the per capita effects of invasive alien species is crucial for assessing their ecological impact. A major challenge to risk assessment of invasive species was to understand the factors that cause per capita effects to vary in different ecological contexts, particularly in a warming world. By conducting functional response experiments, we estimated the per capita effects (attack rate and maximum feeding rate) of an invasive herbivorous snail, Pomacea canaliculata, toward ten host plant species. We tested whether variation in these effects is related to plant nutritional and physical properties (total N and dry matter content (DMC)) and examined how increasing temperature can shift these relationships. We observed stronger per capita effects (i.e., higher attack rate and maximum feeding rate) by the snail on plants with higher total N, but no direct relationship was found with DMC. A significant interaction effect of total N and DMC on the attack rate indicated that DMC probably adjusted the feeding indirectly. Warmer temperatures reduced correlations between snail functional responses and host plant nutritional properties (total N) by increasing maximum feeding rate for plants of low nutrition, but there was no such effect on attack rates. However, given the nonreplacement design used in our study, the nonsignificant effect of temperature on the attack rate should be caveated. Our result suggests that characterizing the per capita effects of herbivores using functional responses can reveal the mechanisms by which climate change may alter herbivore–plant interactions and, thus, the ecological impacts of introduced herbivores.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8777-8784
Number of pages8
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number24
Early online date17 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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