Emerging infectious disease triggered a trophic cascade and enhanced recruitment of a masting tree - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Year : 2022

Emerging infectious disease triggered a trophic cascade and enhanced recruitment of a masting tree

Abstract

There are several mechanisms that allow plants to temporarily escape from top-down control. One of them is trophic cascades triggered by top predators or pathogens. Another is satiation of consumers by mast seeding. These two mechanisms have traditionally been studied in separation. However, their combined action may have a greater effect on plant release than either process alone. In 2015, an outbreak of a disease (African swine fever, ASF) caused a crash in wild boar ( Sus scrofa ) abundance in Białowieża Primeval Forest. Wild boar are important consumers of acorns and are difficult to satiate relative to less mobile granivores. We hypothesized that the joint action of the ASF outbreak and masting would enhance regeneration of oaks ( Quercus robur ). Data from ungulate exclosures demonstrated that ASF led to reduction in acorn predation. Tree seedling data indicated that oak recruitment increased twofold relative to pre-epidemic period. Our results showed that perturbations caused by wildlife disease travel through food webs and influence forest dynamics. The outbreak of ASF acted synergistically with masting and removed herbivore top-down control of oaks by mobile consumers. This illustrates that the ASF epidemic that currently occurs across Europe can have broad effects on forest dynamics.

Dates and versions

hal-04290951 , version 1 (17-11-2023)

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Michał Bogdziewicz, Dries Kuijper, Rafał Zwolak, Marcin Churski, Bogumiła Jędrzejewska, et al.. Emerging infectious disease triggered a trophic cascade and enhanced recruitment of a masting tree. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2022, 289 (1970), pp.1-9. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2021.2636⟩. ⟨hal-04290951⟩
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