Can Climate Crisis Alter Plant-Herbivore Interactions?

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Can Climate Crisis Alter Plant-Herbivore Interactions?

Some examples of climate change are global warming, global cooling, and changing precipitation regimes. Thanks to paleoclimatology (the science that studies the past climate of the Earth), it is known that the climatic history of the Earth goes through continuous phases of more or less rapid and more or less cyclical climate changes, passing from ice ages to interglacial ages (considering millions of years), from glacial periods to interglacial periods (considering thousands of years), from moments of cooling to moments of warming (considering tens and hundreds of years).

Many of the parameters that influence the climate are in slow but continuous change (solar activity, atmospheric characteristics, parameters internal or external to the planet, etc.) so much so that the climate itself, in the medium-long term, is never purely static , but always changing, more or less slowly, in search of a new equilibrium within the climate system, passing from warmer to colder phases.

When a climate change occurs on a limited time scale, for example annual, we speak more properly of climatic anomaly, typically falling within the climatic variability if not even in the meteorological variability of the atmospheric circulation (meteorological anomaly).

The study: Climate change alters plant-herbivore interactions, published on the The New phytologist, focuses its attention on a topic that unfortunately sees the Climate Crisis modify a very important natural factor. We can read: "Plant-herbivore interactions have evolved in response to coevolutionary dynamics, along with selection driven by abiotic conditions.

We examine how abiotic factors influence trait expression in both plants and herbivores to evaluate how climate change will alter this long-standing interaction. The paleontological record documents increased herbivory during periods of global warming in the deep past.

In phylogenetically corrected meta-analyzes, we find that elevated temperatures, CO2 concentrations, drought stress and nutrient conditions directly and indirectly induce greater food consumption by herbivores. Additionally, elevated CO2 delays herbivore development, but increased temperatures accelerate development.

For annual plants, higher temperatures, CO2 and drought stress increase foliar herbivory. Our meta-analysis also suggests that greater temperatures and drought may heighten florivory in perennials. Human actions are causing concurrent shifts in CO2, temperatures, precipitation regimes and nitrogen deposition, yet few studies evaluate interactions among these changing conditions.

We call for additional multifactorial studies that simultaneously manipulate multiple climatic factors, which will enable us to generate more robust predictions of how climate change could disrupt plant-herbivore interactions.

Finally, we consider how shifts in insect and plant phenology and distribution patterns could lead to ecological mismatches, and how these changes may drive future adaptation and coevolution between interacting species."