, Volume 168, Issue 2, pp 415–424 | Cite as

Bird predation enhances tree seedling resistance to insect herbivores in contrasting forest habitats

  • Brice GiffardEmail author
  • Emmanuel Corcket
  • Luc Barbaro
  • Hervé Jactel
Plant-Animal interactions - Original Paper


According to the associational resistance hypothesis, neighbouring plants are expected to influence both the insect herbivore communities and their natural enemies. However, this has rarely been tested for the effects of canopy trees on herbivory of seedlings. One possible mechanism responsible for associational resistance is the indirect impact of natural enemies on insect herbivory, such as insectivorous birds. But it remains unclear to what extent such trophic cascades are influenced by the composition of plant associations (i.e. identity of ‘associated’ plants). Here, we compared the effect of bird exclusion on insect leaf damage for seedlings of three broadleaved tree species in three different forest habitats. Exclusion of insectivorous birds affected insect herbivory in a species-specific manner: leaf damage increased on Betula pendula seedlings whereas bird exclusion had no effect for two oaks (Quercus robur and Q. ilex). Forest habitat influenced both the extent of insect herbivory and the effect of bird exclusion. Broadleaved seedlings had lower overall leaf damage within pine plantations than within broadleaved stands, consistent with the resource concentration hypothesis. The indirect effect of bird exclusion on leaf damage was only significant in pine plantations, but not in exotic and native broadleaved woodlands. Our results support the enemies hypothesis, which predicts that the effects of insectivorous birds on insect herbivory on seedlings are greater beneath non-congeneric canopy trees. Although bird species richness and abundance were greater in broadleaved woodlands, birds were unable to regulate insect herbivory on seedlings in forests of more closely related tree species.


Tritrophic interactions Insectivorous birds Resource concentration hypothesis Natural enemies hypothesis Seedling herbivory 



We thank Fabrice Vetillard and Pierre Menassieu for their help with constructing cages and the set-up of field experiments and Paul Tourneur and Amandine Blanc for assistance in the field. The authors declare that the experiments performed in this study comply with the current laws of France. Brice Giffard was supported by a grant from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. We thank Eckehard G. Brockerhoff, Christopher J. Whelan and one anonymous reviewer for invaluable comments on previous versions of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

442_2011_2089_MOESM1_ESM.doc (128 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 128 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brice Giffard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emmanuel Corcket
    • 2
  • Luc Barbaro
    • 1
  • Hervé Jactel
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR1202, BIOGECOINRACestasFrance
  2. 2.UMR1202, BIOGECOUniversité de BordeauxTalenceFrance

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