Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 181–188

A meta-analysis of the effects of global environmental change on plant-herbivore interactions

Original Paper


Global environmental changes are hypothesized to affect herbivores indirectly via changes in plant defenses, and many studies have been conducted to explore effects of environmental change on plant chemistry and herbivory. We quantitatively synthesized data from these studies to produce generalities about the effects of a broad array of environmental changes on herbivores. Since conversion of natural habitat to agriculture has been one of the most profound environmental changes over the past century, the effects of global change variables on plant defense were also compared between natural and agricultural systems. We found evidence that increasing CO2, light availability, and nutrients all consistently increase herbivory, particularly by generalists. No significant differences in chemistry and herbivory response variables were found between natural and managed systems. Overall, these results are consistent with recent predictions of a disruption of natural trophic interactions with global change.


Global change Plant defense Herbivory Carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis Growth-differentiation balance hypothesis Agriculture 

Supplementary material

11829_2010_9102_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (284 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 283 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology & Evolutionary BiologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute of BiogeochemistryJenaGermany

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