Herbivores safeguard plant diversity by reducing variability in dominance

  title={Herbivores safeguard plant diversity by reducing variability in dominance},
  author={Brent Mortensen and Brent J. Danielson and William Stanley Harpole and Juan Alberti and Carlos Alberto Arnillas and Lori A. Biederman and Elizabeth T. Borer and Marc William Cadotte and John Matthew Dwyer and Nicole Hagenah and Yann Hautier and Pablo Luis Peri and Eric W. Seabloom},
  journal={Journal of Ecology},
  pages={101 - 112}
Reductions in community evenness can lead to local extinctions as dominant species exclude subordinate species; however, herbivores can prevent competitive exclusion by consuming otherwise dominant plant species, thus increasing evenness. While these predictions logically result from chronic, gradual reductions in evenness, rapid, temporary pulses of dominance may also reduce species richness. Short pulses of dominance can occur as biotic or abiotic conditions temporarily favour one or a few… 

While shoot herbivory mitigates, root herbivory exacerbates eutrophication’s impact on diversity in a grassland model

It is found that belowground herbivores exacerbate the negative influence of eutrophication on Shannon diversity within the authors' model grasslands, while aboveground herbvores mitigate its effect.

While shoot herbivores reduce, root herbivores increase nutrient enrichment's impact on diversity in a grassland model.

It is found that belowground herbivores exacerbate the negative influence of nutrient enrichment on Shannon diversity within the authors' model grasslands, while aboveground herbvores mitigate its effect.

Effect of insect herbivory on plant community dynamics under contrasting water availability levels

Altered rainfall has the capacity to change the relative strength of plant–plant interactions and also to determine the effects of herbivores on grassland communities, indicating the need to incorporate multiple biotic and abiotic drivers to fully understand the mechanisms underlying plant dynamics and species coexistence in a changing world.

Large mammalian herbivores modulate plant growth form diversity in a tropical rainforest

The world’s terrestrial biomes are broadly classified according to the dominant plant growth forms that define ecosystem structure and processes. Although the abundance and distribution of different

The cryptic regulation of diversity by functionally complementary large tropical forest herbivores

Tropical forests hold some of the world's most diverse communities of plants. Many populations of large‐bodied herbivores are threatened in these systems, yet their ecological functions and

Evolutionary history of grazing and resources determine herbivore exclusion effects on plant diversity.

Ecological models predict that the effects of mammalian herbivore exclusion on plant diversity depend on resource availability and plant exposure to ungulate grazing over evolutionary time. Using an

Impact of pathogenic fungi, herbivores and predators on secondary succession of tropical rainforest vegetation

There is growing evidence that top–down biotic factors play an important role in plant community dynamics and are able to maintain the high plant diversity of primary tropical forests. However, the

N-Induced Species Loss Dampened by Clipping Mainly Through Suppressing Dominant Species in an Alpine Meadow

Nitrogen addition and clipping can exert substantial impact on species diversity but their interactions and the underlying mechanisms still remain unclear. Resource competition theory holds that



Long-term response of plant communities to herbivore exclusion at high elevation grasslands

The results suggest that long-term effects of grazing cessation in high elevation grasslands can be weaker and slower than predicted, however, these effects can act synergistically with dry and warm events, and the maintenance of past grazing activities can be key in the face of ongoing climatic warming.

Erosion of community diversity and stability by herbivore removal under warming

  • E. Post
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2013
Across the entire plant community, stability increased with diversity, but both stability and diversity were reduced by herbivore removal, warming and their interaction, and within the most species-rich functional group in the community, forbs, warming reduced species diversity.

Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation

Testing the hypothesis that herbaceous plant species losses caused by eutrophication may be offset by increased light availability due to herbivory demonstrates that nutrients and herbivores can serve as counteracting forces to control local plant diversity through light limitation, independent of site productivity, soil nitrogen, herbivore type and climate.


It is proposed that insect outbreaks are common enough in many community types, particularly forests, to warrant explicit consideration in theories of trophic regulation, particularly in terrestrial communities inhabited by long-lived plant species.

Realistically Low Species Evenness Does Not Alter Grassland Species-Richness-Productivity Relationships

The results indicate that richness studies may not be biased by using mixtures with artificially high evenness levels, but the results demonstrate that results from these studies are directly applicable only to communities in which plant extinctions are random.

Reductions in grassland species evenness increase dicot seedling invasion and spittle bug infestation

Results support the view that higher diversity plant communities are more resistant to dicot invaders and insect herbivores.

Herbivore impact on grassland plant diversity depends on habitat productivity and herbivore size.

It is shown that assemblages including large herbivores increased plant diversity at higher productivity but decreased diversity at low productivity, while small herbivore effects did not have consistent effects along the productivity gradient.

Opposing plant community responses to warming with and without herbivores

  • E. PostC. Pedersen
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2008
The results highlight the potentially important and overlooked influences of vertebrate herbivores on plant community response to warming and emphasize that conservation and management of large herbivore may be an important component of mitigating ecosystem response to climate change.

Dominant Species Constrain Effects of Species Diversity on Temporal Variability in Biomass Production of Tallgrass Prairie

Comparing inter-annual variability (inverse of stability) of aboveground biomass in paired restored and remnant tallgrass prairies at two locations in central Texas, USA found biomass response to natural variation in precipitation depended as much on characteristics of a dominant grass as on differences in diversity.

Predators have large effects on ecosystem properties by changing plant diversity, not plant biomass.

A test of the hypothesis that weak trophic cascades do not necessarily lead to weak indirect effects of predators on ecosystem properties shows that this is not the case.