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      Effects of Rising Temperature on the Growth, Stoichiometry, and Palatability of Aquatic Plants

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          Global warming is expected to strengthen herbivore-plant interactions leading to enhanced top-down control of plants. However, latitudinal gradients in plant quality as food for herbivores suggest lower palatability at higher temperatures, but the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. If plant palatability would decline with temperature rise, then this may question the expectation that warming leads to enhanced top-down control. Therefore, experiments that directly test plant palatability and the traits underlying palatability along a temperature gradient are needed. Here we experimentally tested the impact of temperature on aquatic plant growth, plant chemical traits (including stoichiometry) and plant palatability. We cultured three aquatic plant species at three temperatures (15, 20, and 25°C), measured growth parameters, determined chemical traits and performed feeding trial assays using the generalist consumer Lymnaea stagnalis (pond snail). We found that rising temperature significantly increased the growth of all three aquatic plants. Plant nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) content significantly decreased, and carbon (C):N and C:P stoichiometry increased as temperature increased, for both Potamogeton lucens and Vallisneria spiralis, but not for Elodea nuttallii. By performing the palatability test, we found that rising temperatures significantly decreased plant palatability in P. lucens, which could be explained by changes in the underlying chemical plant traits. In contrast, the palatability of E. nuttallii and V. spiralis was not affected by temperature. Overall, P. lucens and V. spiralis were always more palatable than E. nuttallii. We conclude that warming generally stimulates aquatic plant growth, whereas the effects on chemical plant traits and plant palatability are species-specific. These results suggest that the outcome of the impact of temperature rise on macrophyte stoichiometry and palatability from single-species studies may not be broadly applicable. In contrast, the plant species tested consistently differed in palatability, regardless of temperature, suggesting that palatability may be more strongly linked to species identity than to intraspecific variation in plant stoichiometry.

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          Most cited references 77

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          Global patterns of plant leaf N and P in relation to temperature and latitude.

          A global data set including 5,087 observations of leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) for 1,280 plant species at 452 sites and of associated mean climate indices demonstrates broad biogeographic patterns. In general, leaf N and P decline and the N/P ratio increases toward the equator as average temperature and growing season length increase. These patterns are similar for five dominant plant groups, coniferous trees and four angiosperm groups (grasses, herbs, shrubs, and trees). These results support the hypotheses that (i) leaf N and P increase from the tropics to the cooler and drier midlatitudes because of temperature-related plant physiological stoichiometry and biogeographical gradients in soil substrate age and then plateau or decrease at high latitudes because of cold temperature effects on biogeochemistry and (ii) the N/P ratio increases with mean temperature and toward the equator, because P is a major limiting nutrient in older tropical soils and N is the major limiting nutrient in younger temperate and high-latitude soils.
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            Is There a Latitudinal Gradient in the Importance of Biotic Interactions?

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              Nutritional constraints in terrestrial and freshwater food webs.

              Biological and environmental contrasts between aquatic and terrestrial systems have hindered analyses of community and ecosystem structure across Earth's diverse habitats. Ecological stoichiometry provides an integrative approach for such analyses, as all organisms are composed of the same major elements (C, N, P) whose balance affects production, nutrient cycling, and food-web dynamics. Here we show both similarities and differences in the C:N:P ratios of primary producers (autotrophs) and invertebrate primary consumers (herbivores) across habitats. Terrestrial food webs are built on an extremely nutrient-poor autotroph base with C:P and C:N ratios higher than in lake particulate matter, although the N:P ratios are nearly identical. Terrestrial herbivores (insects) and their freshwater counterparts (zooplankton) are nutrient-rich and indistinguishable in C:N:P stoichiometry. In both lakes and terrestrial systems, herbivores should have low growth efficiencies (10-30%) when consuming autotrophs with typical carbon-to-nutrient ratios. These stoichiometric constraints on herbivore growth appear to be qualitatively similar and widespread in both environments.

                Author and article information

                Front Plant Sci
                Front Plant Sci
                Front. Plant Sci.
                Frontiers in Plant Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                08 January 2019
                : 9
                1Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) , Wageningen, Netherlands
                2Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Wuhan, China
                Author notes

                Edited by: Andreas Hussner, Förderverein Feldberg-Ückermärkische-Seenlandschaft e.V, Germany

                Reviewed by: Raymond M. Newman, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States; Paola Lombardo, Limno Consulting, Italy

                *Correspondence: Peiyu Zhang zhangpeiyu@

                This article was submitted to Functional Plant Ecology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Plant Science

                Copyright © 2019 Zhang, Grutters, van Leeuwen, Xu, Petruzzella, van den Berg and Bakker.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 92, Pages: 14, Words: 10393
                Plant Science
                Original Research


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