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Title: Sodium addition increases leaf herbivory and fungal damage across four grasslands
Abstract

Sodium (Na) is an essential element for all animals, but not for plants. Soil Na supplies vary geographically. Animals that primarily consume plants thus have the potential to be Na limited and plants that uptake Na may be subject to higher rates of herbivory, but their high Na content also may attract beneficial partners such as pollinators and seed dispersers.

To test for the effects of Na biogeochemistry on herbivory, we conducted distributed Na press experiments (monthly Na application across the growing season) in four North American grasslands.

Na addition increased soil and plant Na concentrations at all sites. Grasses in Na addition plots had significantly higher herbivore damage by leaf miners and fungal pathogens than those in control plots. Forbs with higher foliar Na concentrations had significantly more chewing insect herbivore and fungal damage.

While no pattern was evident across all species, several forb species had higher Na concentrations in inflorescences compared to leaves, suggesting they may allocate Na to attract beneficial partners.

The uptake of Na by plants, and animal responses, has implications for the salinification in the Anthropocene. Increased use of road salt, irrigation with saline groundwater, rising sea levels and increasing temperatures and evapotranspiration rates with climate change can all increase inputs of Na into terrestrial ecosystems.

Our results suggest increasing terrestrial Na availability will benefit insect herbivores and plant fungal pathogens.

A freePlain Language Summarycan be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

 
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Award ID(s):
2025849
NSF-PAR ID:
10450752
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Functional Ecology
Volume:
35
Issue:
6
ISSN:
0269-8463
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1212-1221
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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