Effects of Elevated Atmospheric CO2 Concentration on Insect Herbivory and Nutrient Fluxes in a Mature Temperate Forest

Aradhana J. Roberts, Liam M. Crowley, Jon P. Sadler, Tien T.T. Nguyen, Scott A.L. Hayward, Daniel B. Metcalfe

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Insect herbivory is one of the most important ecological processes affecting plant–soil feedbacks and overall forest ecosystem health. In this study, we assess how elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2) impacts (i) leaf level insect herbivory and (ii) the stand-level herbivore-mediated transfer of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from the canopy to the ground in a natural mature oak temperate forest community in central England at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Free Air CO2 Enrichment (BIFoR FACE) site. Recently abscised leaves were collected every two weeks through the growing season in August to December from 2017–2019, with the identification of four dominant species: Quercus robur (pedunculate oak), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore), Crataegus monogyna (com-mon hawthorn) and Corylus avellana (hazel). The selected leaves were scanned and visually analyzed to quantify the leaf area loss from folivory monthly. Additionally, the herbivore-mediated transfer of C and N fluxes from the dominant tree species Q. robur was calculated from these leaf-level folivory estimates, the total foliar production and the foliar C and N contents. This study finds that the leaf-level herbivory at the BIFoR FACE has not changed significantly across the first 3 years of eCO2 treatment when assessed across all dominant tree species, although we detected significant changes under the eCO2 treatment for individual tree species and years. Despite the lack of any strong leaf-level herbivory response, the estimated stand-level foliar C and N transferred to the ground via herbivory was substantially higher under eCO2, mainly because there was a ~50% increase in the foliar production of Q. robur under eCO2. This result cautions against concluding much from either the presence or absence of leaf-level herbivory responses to any environmental effect, because their actual ecosystem effects are filtered through so many (usually unmeasured) factors.

StatusPublished - 2022 juli

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Ekologi


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