Developmental instability and fitness in Periploca laevigata experiencing grazing disturbance

International Journal of Plant Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

We investigated the sensitivity of developmental instability measurements (leaf fluctuating asymmetry, floral radial asymmetry, and shoot translational asymmetry) to a long‐standing natural stress (grazing) in a palatable tannin‐producing shrub (Periploca laevigata Aiton). We also assessed the relationship between these measures of developmental instability and fitness components (growth and floral production). Developmental instability, measured by translational asymmetry, was the most accurate estimator of a plant’s condition and, consequently, environmental stress. Plants with less translational asymmetry grew more and produced more flowers. Plants from the medium‐grazed population were developmentally more stable, as estimated by translational and floral asymmetry, than either more heavily or more lightly grazed populations. Leaf fluctuating asymmetry was positively correlated with tannin concentration. The pattern of internode growth also responded to grazing impact. Plants under medium to heavy grazing pressure accelerated early growth and consequently escaped herbivory later in the season, i.e., at the beginning of the spring, when grazing activity was concentrated in herbaceous plants. Periploca laevigata accelerated growth and finished growing sooner than in the other grazing treatment. Thus, its annual growth was more mature and less palatable later in the season when grazers typically concentrate on shrubs. The reduction of developmental instability under medium grazing is interpreted as a direct effect of grazing and not as the release from competition.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Developmental instability and fitness in Periploca laevigata experiencing grazing disturbance
Series title International Journal of Plant Sciences
DOI 10.1086/342630
Volume 163
Issue 6
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher The University of Chicago Press
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 969
Last page 978
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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