, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 544-548

Leaf palatability, life expectancy and herbivore damage

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Observations on leaves from plants with a wide range of life-forms, ruderals to trees, indicate that palatability to insect herbivores is strongly correlated with the life-expectancy of the leaves. The amount of damage suffered in the field is however inversely correlated with palatability; although the rate of damage is less on unpalatable leaves, their longer life means that they accumulate damage over a longer period. It is only with extremely well-defended evergreen leaves, that the total damage is less than that experienced by less palatable (but short-lived) leaves. These observations are related to the current theories on relative palatability (the apparency theory and the resource availability theory), within the framework of the habitat templet.