ROUSSEAUX Maria Cecilia
Solar ultraviolet-B radiation affects plant-insect interactions in a natural ecosystem of Tierra del Fuego (southern Argentina)
ROUSSEAUX, M. C.; BALLARE, C. L.; SCOPEL, A.L.; SEARLES, P.S; CALDWELL, M.M.
Año: 1998 vol. 116 p. 528 - 535
We examined the effects of solar ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) on plant-herbivore interactions in native ecosystems of the Tierra del Fuego National Park (southern Argentina), an area of the globe that is frequently under the Antarctic ``ozone hole'' in early spring.We found that filtering out solar UVB from the sunlight received by naturally-occurring plants of Gunnera magellanica, a creeping perennial herb, significantly increased the number of leaf lesions caused by chewing insects. Field surveys suggested that early-season herbivory was principally due to the activity of moth larvae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Manipulative field experiments showed that exposure to solar UVB changes theattractiveness of G. magellanica leaf tissue to natural grazers. In a laboratory experiment, locally caught moth caterpillars tended to eat more tissue from leaves grown without UVB than from leaves exposed to natural UVB during development; however, the difference between treatments was not significant. Leaves grown under solar UVB had slightly higher N levels than leaves not exposed to UVB; no differences between UVB treatments in specific leaf mass, relative water content, and total methanol-soluble phenolics were detected. Our results show that insect herbivory in a natural ecosystem is influenced bysolar UVB, and that this influence could not be predicted from crude measurements of leaf physical and chemical characteristics and a common laboratory bioassay.