Elevated carbon dioxide affects leaf-miner performance and plant growth in docks (Rumex spp.)


D.T. Salt, fax +44 (0)152-484-3854, e-mail D.Salt@lancaster.ac.uk


Exposure of R. crispus and R. obtusifolius to elevated CO2 (600 ppm) resulted in an increased C:N ratio of leaf tissue and greater leaf areas. Larvae of P. nigritarsis mining leaves of R. obtusifolius during exposure produced significantly bigger mines in elevated than in ambient (350 ppm) conditions. There were no significant treatment effects on pupal weight although in both host species mean weight was greater in ambient than in elevated conditions. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that insect herbivores compensate for increased C:N ratios by increased food consumption. This response by herbivores may partially offset predicted increases in plant biomass in a future high CO2 environment.