Laurie Marczak, Kazik and Steve have a new paper in Journal of Ecology exploring how local versus geographic variation in traits of Spartina alterniflora affect herbivores (Prokelisia planthoppers). As shown before, local variation (tall versus short form, simulated in our study by fertilizing) was very important for herbivores, which do better on tall form plants. Although high-latitude plants are more palatable to herbivores than low-latitude plants, this affected population growth only slightly. Predators (spiders) and top omnivores (Orchelimum) affected Prokelisia, but these effects were mediated by bottom-up conditions. These results allow us to start putting local studies of Spartina-herbivore interactions into a better geographic context.
Marczak, L. B., K. Więski, R. F. Denno and S. C. Pennings. 2013. Importance of local versus geographical variation in saltmarsh plant quality for arthropod herbivore communities. Journal of Ecology 101:1169-1182.