Resistance to herbivory of two populations of Elodea canadensis Michaux and Elodea nuttallii Planchon St. John
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In this article, we compared the resistance of two introduced populations of Elodea nuttallii and Elodea canadensis to two different herbivores. Samples were collected from the River Rhine and River Rhône in eastern France. The two populations of E. nuttallii differed in their introduction history, whereas E. canadensis was introduced at the same time in the two sites. The Daily Food Consumption (DFC) rates of the two macrophyte populations were evaluated in no-choice experiments using the scraper Lymnaea stagnalis and the shredder Gammarus roeseli. At the same time, we assessed four plant traits: dry matter content (DMC), total nitrogen content, carbon/nitrogen ratio and total phenolic content. The two populations of E. canadensis were consumed at low levels by both the herbivores. L. stagnalis showed a higher DFC on the Rhône population of E. nuttallii than on the Rhine population. No significant difference between the two populations was established with G. roeseli, but the level of DFC was high. This result demonstrates that the assessment of plant palatability should be carried out with several generalist herbivores belonging to various feeding groups (e.g. scrapers or shredders). Although the Rhône population of E. nuttallii had higher levels of phenols than the other populations, it was consistently consumed in greater quantities than E. canadensis. Neither the phenolic contents were not effective against these herbivores, nor the levels of phenolics too low to induce an efficient resistance. The higher DMC and the lower DFC of the two populations of E. canadensis suggest that this introduced plant has co-evolved with indigenous enemies in the introduced range.
KeywordsNutritional values Defences Introduced species Gammarus roeseli Lymnaea stagnalis
Constructive comments on a previous version of this article by two anonymous referees are gratefully acknowledged. The authors wish to thank Philippe Rousselle for elemental analyses of carbon and nitrogen; Etienne Morhain for laboratory assistance; and Cédric Mondy and Sophie Sroda for field assistance. This study was supported by a PhD research grant from the Conseil Régional de Lorraine.
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