PhD thesis: Defense strategies against herbivory in seagrasses



Photo: Gema Hernán (Foto: Charina Cañas)



Esporles, September 29, 2017. Gema Hernán has defended her doctoral thesis supervised by the doctors Fiona Tomás and Jorge Terrados, from IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB). The event took place on September 29, 2017 at the IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC).



Herbivory is a key ecological process that regulates the composition and structure of plant communities.



Herbivory is particularly important when affecting habitat forming species such as seagrasses, since the effects in plant abundance and structure cascade through the food web and associated species.



Plants have evolved a suite of defense strategies to avoid or resist herbivory. There are many factors influencing the expression of these strategies being particularly important the availability of resources.



In this thesis we focus on how environmental factors such as those associated to latitudinal patterns (e.g. light, nutrients) and nutrient availability, CO2 and temperature affect the defense strategies against herbivory in seagrasses.



The research presented in this thesis contributes to identify the mechanisms that drive the changes in defense strategies against herbivory due to changes in environmental factors and how changes in traits associated with resistance to herbivores determine the vulnerability of plants to herbivory.



The findings of this thesis highlight the importance of considering species interactions when assessing the effects of environmental factors on plant communities.



Photo: Salpa eating (Author: Gema Hernán)





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