COS 59-8
The effect of chronic seaweed subsidies on herbivory: plant-mediated fertilization pathway overshadows lizard-mediated predator pathways

Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 10:30 AM
L100G, Minneapolis Convention Center
Jonah Piovia-Scott, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
David A. Spiller, Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Gaku Takimoto, Biology, Toho University, Chiba, Japan
Louie H. Yang, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Amber N. Wright, Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
Thomas W. Schoener, Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA

Flows of energy and materials link ecosystems worldwide and have important consequences for the structure of ecological communities. While these resource subsidies typically enter recipient food webs through multiple channels, most previous studies focus on a single pathway of resource input. We used path analysis to evaluate multiple pathways connecting chronic marine resource inputs (in the form of seaweed deposits) and herbivory in a shoreline terrestrial ecosystem.


We found statistical support for a fertilization effect (seaweed increased foliar nitrogen content, leading to greater herbivory) and a lizard numerical response effect (seaweed increased lizard densities, leading to reduced herbivory), but not for a lizard diet-shift effect (seaweed increased the proportion of marine-derived prey in lizard diets, but lizard diet was not strongly associated with herbivory). Greater seaweed abundance was associated with greater herbivory, and the fertilization effect was larger than the combined lizard effects. Thus, the bottom-up, plant-mediated effect of fertilization on herbivory overshadowed the top-down effects of lizard predators. These results, from unmanipulated shoreline plots with persistent differences in chronic seaweed deposition, differ from those of a previous experimental study of the short-term effects of a pulse of seaweed deposition: while the increase in herbivory in response to chronic seaweed deposition was due to the fertilization effect, the short-term increase in herbivory in response to a pulse of seaweed deposition was due to the lizard diet-shift effect. This contrast highlights the importance of the temporal pattern of resource inputs in determining the mechanism of community response to resource subsidies.