Tolerance to apical and leaf damage of Raphanus raphanistrum in different competitive regimes

Ecology and Evolution
Elin Dahlgren, Kari Lehtilä


Tolerance to herbivory is an adaptation that promotes regrowth and maintains fitness in plants after herbivore damage. Here, we hypothesized that the effect of competition on tolerance can be different for different genotypes within a species and we tested how tolerance is affected by competitive regime and damage type. We inflicted apical or leaf damage in siblings of 29 families of an annual plant Raphanus raphanistrum (Brassicaceae) grown at high or low competition. There was a negative correlation of family tolerance levels between competition treatments: plant families with high tolerance to apical damage in the low competition treatment had low tolerance to apical damage in the high competition treatment and vice versa. We found no costs of tolerance, in terms of a trade-off between tolerance to apical and leaf damage or between tolerance and competitive ability, or an allocation cost in terms of reduced fitness of highly tolerant families in the undamaged state. High tolerance bound to a specific competitive regime may entail a cost in terms of low tolerance if competitive regime changes. This could act as a factor maintaining genetic variation for tolerance.


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