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Snail herbivory decreases cyanobacterial abundance and lichen diversity along cracks of limestone pavements

Fröberg, Lars LU ; Stoll, Peter; Baur, Anette and Baur, Bruno (2011) In Ecosphere 2(3). p.1-43
Abstract
Herbivores are known to decrease plant species diversity in ecosystems with low productivity. Limestone pavements are low-productive habitats harboring specialized communities of cyanobacteria, and endo- and epilithic lichens exposed to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. Pavements of

the Great Alvar (O¨ land, Sweden) are covered by free-living cyanobacteria giving the rock surface a dark color. Based on cyanobacterial abundance along the edges, two types of cracks intersecting the pavements have been described: Type one with abundant cyanobacteria and type two without cyanobacteria resulting in light-colored edges. Erosion and different lengths of inundation by melt water have been suggested to cause the conspicuous... (More)
Herbivores are known to decrease plant species diversity in ecosystems with low productivity. Limestone pavements are low-productive habitats harboring specialized communities of cyanobacteria, and endo- and epilithic lichens exposed to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. Pavements of

the Great Alvar (O¨ land, Sweden) are covered by free-living cyanobacteria giving the rock surface a dark color. Based on cyanobacterial abundance along the edges, two types of cracks intersecting the pavements have been described: Type one with abundant cyanobacteria and type two without cyanobacteria resulting in light-colored edges. Erosion and different lengths of inundation by melt water have been suggested to cause the conspicuous differences in community composition and hence color between cracks. We hypothesized that this pattern results from the grazing activity of the cyanobacteria- and lichen-feeding snail Chondrina clienta, which reduces cyanobacterial cover along light-colored cracks and facilitates

endolithic lichens. Three dark and three light-colored cracks were investigated at each of three localities. Crack characteristics (i.e., aspect, width, depth and erosion) and snail density were assessed at the crack level. Cyanobacterial cover and lichen diversity were recorded in 1-cm sections, sampled every 5 cm along eight 160-cm-long transects per crack. Model selection was applied to estimate effects of snail density and distance from crack edges on cyanobacterial abundance and lichen diversity. Crack characteristics explained no differences in cyanobacterial cover or lichen diversity. However, cyanobacterial cover decreased towards the edges of cracks with high snail densities. A transplant experiment supported the

correlational evidence. The abundant cyanobacterial cover on pieces of stone placed close to cracks with high snail densities was completely grazed within 19 months. By contrast, cyanobacteria recolonized

initially completely grazed pieces of stone when fixed near cracks without snails. Abundance and diversity of endolithic lichens increased along cracks with high compared to low snail densities but decreased in

epilithic lichens and lichens with cyanobacterial symbionts. However, the presence of the gastropod herbivore decreased overall lichen diversity. Comparing presence-absence matrices with null models revealed that species co-occurred less frequently than expected. Taken together, we provide evidence that herbivory indirectly released endolithic lichens from competition for light by reducing cyanobacterial cover. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
bioweathering, cyanobacteria, epilithic lichen, herbivory, spatial pattern.
in
Ecosphere
volume
2
issue
3
pages
1 - 43
publisher
Ecological Society of America
external identifiers
  • scopus:84876802238
ISSN
0046-1237
DOI
10.1890/ES10-00197.1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4edf065c-6a4a-4bc6-abf1-11f24509189e (old id 1883068)
alternative location
http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/ES10-00197.1
date added to LUP
2011-04-04 12:32:16
date last changed
2017-09-10 03:57:03
@article{4edf065c-6a4a-4bc6-abf1-11f24509189e,
  abstract     = {Herbivores are known to decrease plant species diversity in ecosystems with low productivity. Limestone pavements are low-productive habitats harboring specialized communities of cyanobacteria, and endo- and epilithic lichens exposed to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. Pavements of<br/><br>
the Great Alvar (O¨ land, Sweden) are covered by free-living cyanobacteria giving the rock surface a dark color. Based on cyanobacterial abundance along the edges, two types of cracks intersecting the pavements have been described: Type one with abundant cyanobacteria and type two without cyanobacteria resulting in light-colored edges. Erosion and different lengths of inundation by melt water have been suggested to cause the conspicuous differences in community composition and hence color between cracks. We hypothesized that this pattern results from the grazing activity of the cyanobacteria- and lichen-feeding snail Chondrina clienta, which reduces cyanobacterial cover along light-colored cracks and facilitates<br/><br>
endolithic lichens. Three dark and three light-colored cracks were investigated at each of three localities. Crack characteristics (i.e., aspect, width, depth and erosion) and snail density were assessed at the crack level. Cyanobacterial cover and lichen diversity were recorded in 1-cm sections, sampled every 5 cm along eight 160-cm-long transects per crack. Model selection was applied to estimate effects of snail density and distance from crack edges on cyanobacterial abundance and lichen diversity. Crack characteristics explained no differences in cyanobacterial cover or lichen diversity. However, cyanobacterial cover decreased towards the edges of cracks with high snail densities. A transplant experiment supported the<br/><br>
correlational evidence. The abundant cyanobacterial cover on pieces of stone placed close to cracks with high snail densities was completely grazed within 19 months. By contrast, cyanobacteria recolonized<br/><br>
initially completely grazed pieces of stone when fixed near cracks without snails. Abundance and diversity of endolithic lichens increased along cracks with high compared to low snail densities but decreased in<br/><br>
epilithic lichens and lichens with cyanobacterial symbionts. However, the presence of the gastropod herbivore decreased overall lichen diversity. Comparing presence-absence matrices with null models revealed that species co-occurred less frequently than expected. Taken together, we provide evidence that herbivory indirectly released endolithic lichens from competition for light by reducing cyanobacterial cover.},
  author       = {Fröberg, Lars and Stoll, Peter and Baur, Anette and Baur, Bruno},
  issn         = {0046-1237},
  keyword      = {bioweathering,cyanobacteria,epilithic lichen,herbivory,spatial pattern.},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {1--43},
  publisher    = {Ecological Society of America},
  series       = {Ecosphere},
  title        = {Snail herbivory decreases cyanobacterial abundance and lichen diversity along cracks of limestone pavements},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES10-00197.1},
  volume       = {2},
  year         = {2011},
}