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Plant herbivore interactions: combined effect of ground water level, root vole grazing and sedge silication
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  • Zbigniew Borowski,
  • Karol Zub,
  • Marcin Sulwinski,
  • Małgorzata Suska-Malawska,
  • Marek Konarazewski
Zbigniew Borowski
Forest Research Institute
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Karol Zub
Mammal Research Institute
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Marcin Sulwinski
Warsaw University Faculty of Biology
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Małgorzata Suska-Malawska
Warsaw University Faculty of Biology
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Marek Konarazewski
University in Białystok
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Abstract

1. Silicon mediated plant–herbivore interactions have gained increasing recognition and have now been studied in a wide range of species. Many studies have also considered accumulation of Si by plants as a process largely driven by geo-hydrological cycles. 2. To identify factors driving the water - plant Si - herbivore nexus we analysed the concentration of Si in fibrous tussock sedge (Carex appropinquata), the population density of the root vole (Microtus oeconomus) and the ground water level, over 11 years. 3. The largest influence of autumn Si concentration in leaves (Sileaf) was the level of the current year’s ground water table, which accounted for 13.3% of its variance. The previous year’s vole population density was weakly positively correlated with Sileaf and alone explained 9.5% of its variance. 4. The only variable found to have a positive, significant effect on autumn Si concentration in rhizomes (Sirhiz) was the current year spring water level explaining as much as 60.9% of its variance. 5. We conclude that the changes in Si concentration in fibrous tussock sedge are predominantly driven by hydrology, with vole population dynamics being secondary. Our results provide only partial support for the existence of plant-herbivore interactions, as we did not detect the significant effects of Si tussock concentration on the vole density dynamics. This was mainly due to low level of silification of sedges, which was insufficient to impinge herbivores. Future studies on plant–herbivore interactions should therefore mainly focus on identification of mechanisms and conditions allowing plants to accumulate silica at the levels sufficient to act as an anti-herbivore protection.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

05 Jul 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
07 Jul 2021Submission Checks Completed
07 Jul 2021Assigned to Editor
12 Jul 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Aug 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
24 Aug 20211st Revision Received
26 Aug 2021Submission Checks Completed
26 Aug 2021Assigned to Editor
26 Aug 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Oct 2021Editorial Decision: Accept