, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 105-109

Phylogeny and the patterns of leaf phenolics in gap-and forest-adapted Piper and Miconia understory shrubs

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The types and quantities of defense compounds found in plants occupying ecologically distinct habitats have received much theoretical and little empirical attention. Here we characterize the leaf phenolic chemistry of eight species in two genera of tropical rainforest shrubs; four species in each genus are typical of disturbed sites, and four are typical of mature forest understory. Two Miconia species growing in light gaps had significantly higher leaf tannin and total phenolic contents than congenors growing in the primary forest; this pattern was not found among the gap- and forest-adapted Piper species. Tannin patterns were not mirrored by leaf cinnamic acids. These results indicate that plant phylogeny must be considered when predicting plant defense investment.