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Title: Herbivore metabolism and stoichiometry each constrain herbivory at different organizational scales across ecosystems
Authors: Hillebrand, Helmut
Borer, Elizabeth
Bracken, Matthew
Cardinale, Brad
Cebrian, Just
Cleland, Elsa
Elser, James
Gruner, Daniel
Harpole, Stanley
Ngai, Jackie
Sandin, Stuart
Seabloom, Eric
Shurin, Jonathan
Smith, Jennifer
Smith, Melinda
Type: Article
Keywords: body size
ecological stoichiometry
metabolic theory of ecology
nutrient ratios
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Ecology Letters
Citation: Hillebrand, H., E. T. Borer, M. E. S. Bracken, B. J. Cardinale, J. Cebrian, E. E. Cleland, J. J. Elser, D. S. Gruner, W. S. Harpole, J. T. Ngai, S. Sandin, E. W. Seabloom, J. B. Shurin, J. E. Smith, and M. D. Smith. 2009. Herbivore metabolism and stoichiometry each constrain herbivory at different organizational scales across ecosystems. Ecology Letters 12:516-527
Abstract: Plant-herbivore interactions mediate the trophic structure of ecosystems. We use a comprehensive data set extracted from the literature to test the relative explanatory power of two contrasting bodies of ecological theory, the metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) and ecological stoichiometry (ES), for per-capita and population-level rates of herbivory across ecosystems. We found that ambient temperature and herbivore body size (MTE) as well as stoichiometric mismatch (ES) both constrained herbivory, but at different scales of biological organization. Herbivore body size, which varied over 11 orders of magnitude, was the primary factor explaining variation in per-capita rates of herbivory. Stoichiometric mismatch explained more variation in population-level herbivory rates and also in per-capita rates when we examined data from within functionally similar trophic groups (e.g. zooplankton). Thus, predictions from metabolic and stoichiometric theories offer complementary explanations for patterns of herbivory that operate at different scales of biological organization.
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