We assessed the effects of light limitation and temperature shift on palatability and induced antiherbivore defense in the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus L. Incubation for 2 wk at light intensities above the compensation point of photosynthesis and in the absence of grazers increased the palatability of F. vesiculosus and its subsequent consumption by the omnivorous isopod Idotea baltica Pallas. This effect correlated with an increased C:N ratio and mannitol content in the algal tissue, presumably due to increased photosynthetic carbon fixation. Mannitol, the primary product of photosynthesis in F. vesiculosus, proved to be a feeding cue for I. baltica, and depletion of the mannitol pool may therefore account for the reduced palatability during light limitation. At light intensities above the compensation point of photosynthesis, F. vesiculosus responded with decreasing palatability when it was exposed to I. baltica grazing. Irrespective of the preceding light regime, such defense induction was prevented during incubation under light limitation. Thus, under low light, defense induction is not only inhibited, but also less necessary due to the relative absence of feeding cues. Upward or downward shifts in water temperature by approximately 10°C also inhibited inducible defense in F. vesiculosus. However, such shifts did not affect algal growth and were therefore the consequence of an impairment of specific defense-related components rather than of resource limitation, unless compensatory growth was given priority over defense.
- Alga-herbivore interaction
- Defense induction
- Seaweed-herbivore interaction
- Stress effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science