Original Papers


, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 174-180

First online:

Nutrient and biomass allocation in Solidago altissima: effects of two stem gallmakers, fertilization, and ramet isolation

  • Warren G. AbrahamsonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Bucknell University
  • , Kenneth D. McCreaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Bucknell University

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The allocations of biomass, N, P, and K were determined by standard methods in goldenrod ramets (1) parasitized by dipteran and lepidopterous gallmakers, (2) from fertilized and unfertilized plots, and (3) whose rhizome connections to their parental clone were severed. The presence of ball galls and their larvae increased allocation to stem but decreased allocation to leaves and seed production, and reduced the number of new rhizomes. There was a marked magnification of N and P concentrations going up the food chains; from goldenrods to gallmakers to the gallmaker's parasitoid/inquiline guild. Nutrient budgets expressed as flow diagrams indicated that N and P costs of gall presence were similar to energy costs under conditions where nutrients did not limit plant growth. Our data do not indicate that the growth of the galls of these gallmakers is limited by either N or P. Ramets from fertilized plots contained more N and P than controls but decreased the percentage of biomass allocated to leaves and inflorescences; ramets isolated by rhizome-cutting compensated their loss by increased allocation to roots, current rhizomes, and new rhizomes but at a cost of lower allocation to seed production and leaves. Gallmakers have a negative impact on host plant fitness characteristics. This may be especially important to establishing perennial hosts, given that herbivore effects would reduce clonal expansion and hence the ultimate clone size, thereby decreasing lifetime plant fitness.