Anna Flucke

Session 2
Board Number

The Effect of Herbivory on Plant Biomass Production and Net Ecosystem Exchange

The presence of herbivores has a large impact on their ecosystem and the plant communities that they feed on. While there have been some studies within the Nutrient Network regarding the effect of herbivores on community diversity, this project will uniquely explore the effect on ecosystem productivity and plant respiration. Due to the difficulty of measuring NEE as a measure of carbon exchange, there are relatively few studies that explore its relation to herbivory. To understand this relationship, ten plots were set up with five being surrounded by a wire mesh cage to exclude herbivores. Biomass was collected, identified, and weighed during four separate sampling periods throughout the growing season. Additionally, carbon flux values and NDVI were taken. The NEE and biomass measurements showed a strong negative correlation as expected from carbon flux patterns. The biomass amount and NEE also varied significantly as the growing season progressed, with greater biomass allowing a greater amount of photosynthesis and carbon intake, reducing the NEE. The results of this experiment can contribute to the growing body of work studying carbon flux with changing climate and community composition.