Correlations between physical and chemical defences in plants: Tradeoffs, syndromes, or just many different ways to skin a herbivorous cat?

Angela T. Moles, Begoña Peco, Ian R. Wallis, William J. Foley, Alistair G.B. Poore, Eric W. Seabloom, Peter A. Vesk, Alejandro J. Bisigato, Lucrecia Cella-Pizarro, Connie J. Clark, Philippe S. Cohen, William K. Cornwell, Will Edwards, Rasmus Ejrnæs, Therany Gonzales-Ojeda, Bente J. Graae, Gregory Hay, Fainess C. Lumbwe, Benjamín Magaña-Rodríguez, Ben D. MoorePablo L. Peri, John R. Poulsen, James C. Stegen, Ruan Veldtman, Hugo von Zeipel, Nigel R. Andrew, Sarah L. Boulter, Elizabeth T. Borer, Johannes H.C. Cornelissen, Alejandro G. Farji-Brener, Jane L. Degabriel, Enrique Jurado, Line A. Kyhn, Bill Low, Christa P.H. Mulder, Kathryn Reardon-Smith, Jorge Rodríguez-Velázquez, An De Fortier, Zheng Zheng, Pedro G. Blendinger, Brian J. Enquist, Jose M. Facelli, Tiffany Knight, Jonathan D. Majer, Miguel Martínez-Ramos, Peter Mcquillan, Francis K.C. Hui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most plant species have a range of traits that deter herbivores. However, understanding of how different defences are related to one another is surprisingly weak. Many authors argue that defence traits trade off against one another, while others argue that they form coordinated defence syndromes. We collected a dataset of unprecedented taxonomic and geographic scope (261 species spanning 80 families, from 75 sites across the globe) to investigate relationships among four chemical and six physical defences. Five of the 45 pairwise correlations between defence traits were significant and three of these were tradeoffs. The relationship between species' overall chemical and physical defence levels was marginally nonsignificant (P = 0.08), and remained nonsignificant after accounting for phylogeny, growth form and abundance. Neither categorical principal component analysis (PCA) nor hierarchical cluster analysis supported the idea that species displayed defence syndromes. Our results do not support arguments for tradeoffs or for coordinated defence syndromes. Rather, plants display a range of combinations of defence traits. We suggest this lack of consistent defence syndromes may be adaptive, resulting from selective pressure to deploy a different combination of defences to coexisting species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-263
Number of pages12
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume198
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Cyanogenesis
  • Extrafloral nectaries
  • Hair
  • Leaf toughness
  • Lipid
  • Plant-herbivore interactions
  • Spines
  • Tannin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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    Moles, A. T., Peco, B., Wallis, I. R., Foley, W. J., Poore, A. G. B., Seabloom, E. W., Vesk, P. A., Bisigato, A. J., Cella-Pizarro, L., Clark, C. J., Cohen, P. S., Cornwell, W. K., Edwards, W., Ejrnæs, R., Gonzales-Ojeda, T., Graae, B. J., Hay, G., Lumbwe, F. C., Magaña-Rodríguez, B., ... Hui, F. K. C. (2013). Correlations between physical and chemical defences in plants: Tradeoffs, syndromes, or just many different ways to skin a herbivorous cat? New Phytologist, 198(1), 252-263. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.12116