Stefanescu C, Peñuelas J, Sardans J, Filellla I (2006) Females of the specialist butterfly Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalinae: Melitaeini) select the greenest leaves of Lonicera implexa (Caprifoliaceae) for oviposition. European Journal of Entomology 103: 569-574
Peñuelas J., Sardans J., Stefanescu C., Parella T., Filella I. (2006) Lonicera implexa leaves bearing naturally laid eggs of the specialist herbivore Euphydryas aurinia have dramatically greater concentrations of iridoid glycosides than other leaves. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 32: 1925-1933.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10886-006-9118-8
We tested in the field the hypothesis that the specialist butterfly Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae, Melitaeinae) lays eggs on leaves of Lonicera implexa (Caprifoliaceae) plants with greater iridoid concentrations. We conducted our investigations in a Mediterranean site by analyzing leaves with and without naturally laid egg clusters. There were no significant differences in iridoid glycoside concentrations between leaves from plants that did not receive eggs and the unused leaves from plants receiving eggs, a fact that would seem to indicate that E. aurinia butterflies do not choose plants for oviposition by their iridoid content. However, the leaves of L. implexa that bore egg clusters had dramatically greater (over 15-fold) concentrations of iridoid glycosides than the directly opposite leaves on the same plant. These huge foliar concentrations of iridoids (15% leaf dry weight) may provide specialist herbivores with compounds that they either sequester for their own defense or use as a means of avoiding competition for food from generalist herbivores. Nevertheless, it may still be possible that these high concentrations are detrimental to the herbivore, even if the herbivore is a specialist feeder on the plant. © Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006.
Sardans J., Peñuelas J. (2006) Introduction of the factor of partitioning in the lithogenic enrichment factors of trace element bioaccumulation in plant tissues. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 115: 473-498.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10661-006-7241-1
Bioindicators are widely used in the study of trace elements inputs into the environment and great efforts have been conducted to separate atmospheric from soil borne inputs on biomass accumulation. Many monitoring studies of trace element pollution take into account the dust particles located in the plant surface plus the contents of the plant tissues. However, it is usually only the trace element content in the plant tissues that is relevant on plant health. Enrichment factor equations take into account the trace element enrichment of biomasses with respect soil or bedrocks by comparing the ratios of the trace element in question to a lithogenic element, usually Al. However, the enrichment equations currently in use are inadequate because they do not take into account the fact that Al (or whichever reference element) and the element in question may have different solubility-absorption-retention levels depending on the rock and soil types involved. This constrain will become critical when results from different sites are compared and so in this article we propose that the solubility factors of each element are taken into account in order to overcome this constrain. We analysed Sb, Co, Ni, Cr, Pb, Cd, Mn, V, Zn, Cu, As, Hg, and Al concentration in different zones of Catalonia (NE Spain) using the evergreen oak Quercus ilex and the moss Hypnum cupressiforme as target species. We compared the results obtained in rural and non industrial areas with those from the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. We observed differences in Al concentrations of soils and bedrocks at each different site, together with the differences in solubility between Al and the element in question, and a weak correlation between total soil content and water extract content through different sites for most trace elements. All these findings show the unsuitability of the current enrichment factors for calculating lithospheric and atmospheric contributions to trace element concentrations in biomass tissues. The trace element enrichment factors were calculated by subtracting the part predicted by substrate composition (deduced from water extracts from soils and bedrock) from total concentrations. Results showed that for most of the trace elements analysed, trace elements enrichment factors were higher inside the Barcelona Metropolitan Area than outside, a finding that indicates that greater atmospheric inputs occur in urban areas. The results show that the most useful and correct way of establishing a reference for lithospheric and atmospheric inputs into the plant tissues is, first, to analyse samples of the same plant species collected from a number of sites possessing similar environmental conditions (climate, vegetation type, soil type) and, second, to use this new enrichment factor obtained by subtracting from the total concentration in plant tissue the predicted contribution of soil or bedrock extracts instead of that of total soil or bedrock concentrations. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006.
Sardans J., Peñuelas J., Estiarte M. (2006) Warming and drought alter soil phosphatase activity and soil P availability in a Mediterranean shrubland. Plant and Soil. 289: 227-238.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s11104-006-9131-2
We conducted a field experiment simulating the warming and drought in a Mediterranean shrubland dominated by Erica multiflora and Globularia alypum with the aim to simulate the next future climate conditions predicted by the IPCC and ecophysiological models. As P is frequently a limiting nutrient in Mediterranean ecosystems, we investigated the drought and warming effects on soil phosphatases activities, soil P contents and availability, litter and leaf P concentration, and the capacity of this community to maintain soil P reserves and retain this nutrient in the ecosystem. Warming treatment increased soil and air temperature (an average of 1°C) and drought treatment decreased soil water content in one of the seasons analysed (28% in autum 2004). Warming increased (68%) the activities of soil acid phosphatases in summer and alkaline phosphatase activity (22%) in spring 2004, and increased P concentrations in E. multiflora. Instead, warming decreased P concentrations in litterfall of this same species, E. multiflora, and soil HCO3-extractable Pi (Olsen-Pi) in some seasons, decreasing total P soil concentration (37%) after 6 years of treatment. The drought treatment did not change soil phosphatase activities, nor available Pi. The effects of climate change on soil P dynamics in Mediterranean areas will thus be strongly dependent on whether the main variable involved in the local change is warming or drought. If warming is the main change without significant changes in water availability, the increases of biological activity can accelerate plant growth, P capture by plants and increase soil-phosphatase activity, altogether decreasing P contents in soil. If drought is the main change, a reduction in P demands by plants is expected, increasing P stocks in soils. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Sardans J., Peñuelas J., Rodà F. (2006) Plasticity of leaf morphological traits, leaf nutrient content, and water capture in the Mediterranean evergreen oak Quercus ilex subsp. ballota in response to fertilization and changes in competitive conditions. Ecoscience. 13: 258-270.LinkDoi: 10.2980/i1195-6860-13-2-258.1
We manipulated nutrient availability and competing vegetation to investigate the phenotypic plasticity of leaf morphology and nutrient content of saplings and seedlings of the evergreen holm oak Quercus ilex subsp. ballota in response to nutrient pulses. Different factorial experimental designs were established with N and/or P pulse fertilization as factors in a field experiment in Catalonia (northeast Spain) and with P fertilization, soil type, and competitive situation as factors in a pot experiment. In the field, P fertilization decreased leaf mass per area (LMA) 9-13% in the 3 y following the fertilization application. No significant effect was observed from variations in N supply in any leaf cohort. In the pot experiment, P fertilization increased the leaf size, pre-dawn leaf water content, and root growth and decreased the LMA. P fertilization strongly increased P leaf concentrations, as in the field experiment. Neighbour competition induced increases in LMA in the second leaf cohort and in leaf density and size in both leaf cohorts; it also reduced root growth and tended to increase P leaf concentrations. Soil type had a significant effect on individual leaf area, leaf mass, and LMA, the latter being higher in siliceous soils than in calcareous and artificial soils. The pattern of change in leaf thickness across the different soil types was the opposite of that for leaf P concentrations, P contents per unit of leaf area, and leaf density. These results point to a morphological leaf plasticity in response to P availability, competitive situation, and soil type. The relations between the changes in leaf morphology, leaf nutrient content, root growth, and pre-dawn leaf water content changed depending on the factor that induced them. However, leaf morphological traits changed in combination with other plant traits such as root growth and nutrient contents in order to balance resource availability and production capacity under different environmental conditions, such as changing degrees of neighbour competition or water availability. This plasticity of sclerophyllous leaf traits in response to nutrient pulses makes Quercus ilex subsp. ballota well suited to adapt to the unpredictable changes and stress situations likely to result from current and immediate future climate and other changes in the Mediterranean region.
Sardans J., Peñuelas J., Rodà F. (2006) The effects of nutrient availability and removal of competing vegetation on resprouter capacity and nutrient accumulation in the shrub Erica multiflora. Acta Oecologica. 29: 221-232.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.actao.2005.10.006
Nutrient availability is increasing in the Mediterranean Basin due to the great number and intensity of fires and higher levels of anthropomorphic pollution. In the experiment described in this paper, we aimed to determine the effects of N and P availability and of the removal of competing vegetation on resprouter capacity, biomass, and nutrient accumulation in Erica multiflora. Plants of the resprouter species E. multiflora were clipped to 0% of aerial biomass in a post-fire Mediterranean shrubland and fertilisation experiments and removal of competing vegetation were established in a factorial design. The resprouting of clipped plants was monitored during the first year after clipping and at the end of the year, all plant resprout populations were harvested and their resprout structure, biomass and N and P content measured. N fertilisation had no significant effect on leaf biomass either at plant level or on the total aerial biomass per stump unit area; however N concentration in resprout biomass did increased. P fertilisation slightly increased resprouting vigour and had a significant effect on P content of the leaf biomass. The removal of competing vegetation increased the ratio between leaf biomass and stem biomass, the lateral expansion of resprout, the hierarchy of resprouts branching, and the P content of stems, above all when P fertilisation was applied. These results show that as a response to decreased competition E. multiflora has the capacity to modify the relative proportions of the nutrients in the aerial biomass. All these characteristics allow E. multiflora to persist in increasingly disturbed Mediterranean ecosystems and contribute to the retention of nutrients in the ecosystem during early resprouting phases. © 2006 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
Sardans J., Rodà F., Peñuelas J. (2006) Effects of a nutrient pulse supply on nutrient status of the Mediterranean trees Quercus ilex subsp. ballota and Pinus halepensis on different soils and under different competitive pressure. Trees - Structure and Function. 20: 619-632.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s00468-006-0077-z
Nutrient availability is a key factor in Mediterranean ecosystems that affects the primary productivity and the community structure. The great variability of its natural availability is now increasing due to frequent fires, pollution events and changes in rainfall regime associated to climate change. Quercus ilex ssp. ballota and Pinus halepensis are the most abundant tree species in the NW Mediterranean basin. They frequently compete in the early and middle successional stages. We investigated the effects of N and P pulse supplies on nutrient uptake capacity in these two species in an after-fire field area and in nursery conditions on different soil types and competing conditions. In the field, N fertilisation had weak effects on nutrient concentration and mineralomass likely as a consequence of this nutrient not being limiting in this field site whereas P fertilisation increased the P mineralomass and the Mg, S, Fe, K and Ca concentrations and mineralomass in the different biomass fractions of both species 1 and 3 years after fertilisation application. In the nursery experiments, P fertilisation increased the mineralomass and concentrations of P, Mg, S, Fe, K and Ca in all biomass fractions including the roots in both species and in different soils and competition conditions. The increment of nutrient mineralomass was due to both the increase of growth and of nutrient concentrations. Both species were able to absorb significant amounts of the P applied by fertilisation (between 5 and 20%) in short time (18 months). Competing vegetation decreased the positive effects of P fertilisation, and in many cases the negative effect of competing vegetation on nutrient mineralomass was stronger when P availability was increased by fertilisation. Q. ilex subsp ballota showed a greater competitive ability for P than the more pioneer species Pinus halepensis in the field but not in the nursery conditions. Pinus halepensis had greater nutrient mineralomass in calcareous than in siliceous soils. Q. ilex subsp. ballota had a higher root biomass allocation and root nutrient allocation than P. halepensis, but both species showed a high capacity to increase their nutrient uptake when its availability increased by fertilisation, thus assuring a great nutrient reserve for future growth periods and contributing to retain nutrients in the ecosystem. © Springer-Verlag 2006.
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