Solar ultraviolet-B radiation can affect slug feeding preference for some plant species native to a fen ecosystem in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Johann G. Zaller, Peter S. Searles, M. Cecilia Rousseaux, Stephan D. Flint, Martyn M. Caldwell, Osvaldo Sala, Carlos L. Ballaré, Ana L. Scopel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to test potential effects of solar ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation on (i) foliage nutritional quality and foliage decomposition rates of six plant species of this fen ecosystem (Nothofagus antarctica, Carex curta, C. decidua and C. magellanica; Acaena magellanica and Gunnera magellanica) and (ii) feeding preferences for these plant species of the slug Deroceras reticulatum prevalent in this ecosystem. In a mixed-diet selection slugs were offered leaves of the six species that had been grown for three years in experimental field plots under either near-ambient or reduced solar ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. The chosen characteristics of leaf quality (nitrogen concentration, carbon:nitrogen ratio, specific leaf area) and leaf decomposition rates of the six species varied significantly among species but were not affected by the UV-B treatments. However, there were UV-B treatment effects on slug feeding preference for two plant species. For the tree species, Nothofagus, slugs had consumed only one-third as much foliage grown under near-ambient UV-B radiation as of foliage grown under reduced UV-B by the end of the feeding experiment. In contrast, leaves of the sedge C. decidua that had been grown under near-ambient UV-B were consumed twice as much as leaves grown under reduced UV-B radiation. Consumption of foliage for the other four species was similar for the two UV-B treatments. Additionally, diet selection of the slugs was also significantly affected by prior UV-B conditions under which foliage had been grown. Nothofagus leaves were consumed proportionately less and C. decidua proportionately more if the foliage had been grown under near-ambient UV-B radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Global change
  • Herbivory
  • Ozone depletion
  • Plant-animal interactions
  • UV radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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