Generalizing indirect defense and resistance of plants

Ecology Letters
By: , and 



Indirect defence, the adaptive top‐down control of herbivores by plant traits that enhance predation, is a central component of plant–herbivore interactions. However, the scope of interactions that comprise indirect defence and associated ecological and evolutionary processes has not been clearly defined. We argue that the range of plant traits that mediate indirect defence is much greater than previously thought, and we further organise major concepts surrounding their ecological functioning. Despite the wide range of plant traits and interacting organisms involved, indirect defences show commonalities when grouped. These categories are based on whether indirect defences boost natural enemy abundance via food or shelter resources, or, alternatively, increase natural enemy foraging efficiency via information or alteration of habitat complexity. The benefits of indirect defences to natural enemies should be further explored to establish the conditions in which indirect defence generates a plant–natural enemy mutualism. By considering the broader scope of plant–herbivore–natural enemy interactions that comprise indirect defence, we can better understand plant‐based food webs, as well as the evolutionary processes that have shaped them.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Generalizing indirect defense and resistance of plants
Series title Ecology Letters
DOI 10.1111/ele.13512
Volume 23
Issue 7
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 1137
Last page 1152
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