, Volume 138, Issue 4, pp 505–512 | Cite as

Solar UV-B radiation affects leaf quality and insect herbivory in the southern beech tree Nothofagus antarctica

  • M. Cecilia Rousseaux
  • Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto
  • Peter S. Searles
  • Ana L. Scopel
  • Pedro J. Aphalo
  • Carlos L. Ballaré


We examined the effects of solar ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation on plant-insect interactions in Tierra del Fuego (55°S), Argentina, an area strongly affected by ozone depletion because of its proximity to Antarctica. Solar UV-B under Nothofagus antarctica branches was manipulated using a polyester plastic film to attenuate UV-B (uvb−) and an Aclar film to provide near-ambient UV-B (uvb+). The plastic films were placed on both north-facing (i.e., high solar radiation in the Southern Hemisphere) and south-facing branches. Insects consumed 40% less leaf area from north- than from south-facing branches, and at least 30% less area from uvb+ branches than from uvb− branches. The reduced herbivory on leaves from uvb+ branches occurred for both branch orientations. Leaf mass per area increased and relative water content decreased on north- versus south-facing branches, while no differences were apparent between the UV-B treatments. Solar UV-B did lead to lower gallic acid concentration and higher flavonoid aglycone concentration in uvb+ leaves relative to uvb− leaves. Both the flavonoid aglycone and quercetin-3-arabinopyranoside were higher on north-facing branches. In laboratory preference experiments, larvae of the dominant insect in the natural community, Geometridae “Brown” (Lepidoptera), consumed less area from field-grown uvb+ leaves than from uvb− leaves in 1996–97, but not in 1997–98. Correlation analyses suggested that the reduction in insect herbivory in the field under solar UV-B may be mediated in part by the UV-B effects on gallic acid and flavonoid aglycone.


Flavonoids Gallic acid Herbivory  Nothofagus Ozone depletion 



We thank: Ricardo Saenz-Samaniego, Sonia Hall, Juan Rosales, Oscar Bianciotto, Luis Pinedo, and Carla V. Giordano for field and laboratory assistance; Martyn Caldwell, Osvaldo Sala, and Stephan Flint for project coordination and design; and Mario Gentili for identifying the insect families. We also thank the Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas and the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego for use of their facilities. This research was supported through the Interagency Program on Terrestrial Ecology and Climate Change (TECO) by the U.S. National Science Foundation (95–24144 and 98–14357). Additional support was provided by the Agencia Nacional para la Promoción Científica y Técnica (PICT97 1–00342 and PICT99 1–05292).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Cecilia Rousseaux
    • 1
    • 5
  • Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto
    • 2
  • Peter S. Searles
    • 3
    • 6
  • Ana L. Scopel
    • 1
  • Pedro J. Aphalo
    • 4
  • Carlos L. Ballaré
    • 1
  1. 1.IFEVAConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas and Universidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of JoensuuJoensuuFinland
  3. 3.Department of Rangeland Resources and The Ecology CenterUtah State UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  5. 5.CRILARConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasLa RiojaArgentina
  6. 6.CRILARConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasLa RiojaArgentina

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