, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 372-375

Wound-induced changes in the palatability of Betula pubescens and B. pendula

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Leaves of Betula were damaged artificially in April, June and August 1982. Palatability of damaged and adjacent undamaged leaves was assessed against controls in bioassays using the polyphagous Lepidoptera Spodoptera littoralis and Orgyia antiqua. Assessments were carried out at intervals from six hours to five months following each damage date. Palatability (relative proportions of leaves consumed) was significantly lower than controls in damaged and adjacent leaves after six hours and remained detectable for up to two months but this was less clear in the June-damaged samples and undetectable in the August group. Adjacent leaves were significantly affected whether distal or proximal to the damaged leaves. Marked and significant changes occurred in levels of soluble tannins in the damaged and adjacent leaves but the relationship between crude tannin levels and changed palatability was not simple cause and effect. No significant effects of damage on aphid (Euceraphis punctipennis) reproduction could be detected among birches in a growth room experiment in which half the trees were artificially damaged and half were controls. The results are discussed in the light of earlier work on induced defence in birch and five areas of significant new information represented by the results in this paper are identified.

Spodoptera was reared under M.A.F.F. licence PHF 121/57