Silicon (Si) has important functional roles in plants, including resistance against herbivores. Environmental change, such as increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2, may alter allocation to Si defences in grasses, potentially changing the feeding behaviour and performance of herbivores, which may in turn impact on higher trophic groups. Using Si-treated and untreated grasses (Phalaris aquatica) maintained under ambient (400 ppm) and elevated (640 and 800 ppm) CO2 concentrations, we show that Si reduced feeding by crickets (Acheta domesticus), resulting in smaller body mass. This, in turn, reduced predatory behaviour by praying mantids (Tenodera sinensis), which consequently performed worse. Despite elevated CO2 decreasing Si concentrations in P. aquatica, this reduction was not large enough to affect the feeding behaviour of crickets or their predator. Our results suggest that Si-based defences in plants have adverse impacts on both primary and secondary trophic taxa, and these are not likely to decline under future climate change scenarios.
- Received November 24, 2016.
- Accepted February 22, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
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