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J Chem Ecol. 2011 Aug;37(8):838-45. doi: 10.1007/s10886-011-9990-8. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Palatability and chemical defense of Phragmites australis to the marsh periwinkle snail Littoraria irrorata.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Baltimore, MD 21204, USA.


Coastal marsh habitats are impacted by many disturbances, including habitat destruction, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. The common reed, Phragmites australis, has been particularly invasive in the mesohaline regions of the Chesapeake Bay, but few studies have investigated its role in trophic interactions with North American marsh consumers. The marsh periwinkle snail Littoraria irrorata is a common grazer in marshes and grazes on the native grass Spartina alterniflora. Whether this snail grazes on Phragmites has not been addressed. We found Spartina leaves to be tougher than those of Phragmites, but despite this, snails consumed significantly more Spartina than Phragmites. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that Phragmites is chemically deterrent to snails by an unknown, moderately polar, compound. Further studies are required to more fully understand the interactions between Phragmites, herbivores, and Spartina, and how they may impact marsh ecosystems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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