Swan foraging shapes spatial distribution of two submerged plants, favouring the preferred prey species

Sandsten, Håkan and Klaassen, Marcel 2008, Swan foraging shapes spatial distribution of two submerged plants, favouring the preferred prey species, Oecologia, vol. 156, no. 3, pp. 569-576, doi: 10.1007/s00442-008-1010-5.

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Title Swan foraging shapes spatial distribution of two submerged plants, favouring the preferred prey species
Author(s) Sandsten, Håkan
Klaassen, MarcelORCID iD for Klaassen, Marcel orcid.org/0000-0003-3907-9599
Journal name Oecologia
Volume number 156
Issue number 3
Start page 569
End page 576
Total pages 8
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publication date 2008-06
ISSN 0029-8549
1432-1939
Keyword(s) cygnus
mutualism
potamogeton
predator–prey interactions
subterranean herbivory
Summary Compared to terrestrial environments, grazing intensity on belowground plant parts may be particularly strong in aquatic environments, which may have great effects on plant-community structure. We observed that the submerged macrophyte, Potamogeton pectinatus, which mainly reproduces with tubers, often grows at intermediate water depth and that P. perfoliatus, which mainly reproduces with rhizomes and turions, grows in either shallow or deep water. One mechanism behind this distributional pattern may be that swans prefer to feed on P. pectinatus tubers at intermediate water depths. We hypothesised that when swans feed on tubers in the sediment, P. perfoliatus rhizomes and turions may be damaged by the uprooting, whereas the small round tubers of P. pectinatus that escaped herbivory may be more tolerant to this bioturbation. In spring 2000, we transplanted P. perfoliatus rhizomes into a P. pectinatus stand and followed growth in plots protected and unprotected, respectively, from bird foraging. Although swan foraging reduced tuber biomass in unprotected plots, leading to lower P. pectinatus density in spring 2001, this species grew well both in protected and unprotected plots later that summer. In contrast, swan grazing had a dramatic negative effect on P. perfoliatus that persisted throughout the summer of 2001, with close to no plants in the unprotected plots and high densities in the protected plots. Our results demonstrate that herbivorous waterbirds may play a crucial role in the distribution and prevalence of specific plant species. Furthermore, since their grazing benefitted their preferred food source, the interaction between swans and P. pectinatus may be classified as ecologically mutualistic.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s00442-008-1010-5
Field of Research 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology)
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2008, The Authors
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30035092

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