, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 409–417

Herbivory, serotiny and seedling defence in Western Australian Proteaceae

  • Mick E. Hanley
  • Byron B. Lamont

DOI: 10.1007/s004420000538

Cite this article as:
Hanley, M. & Lamont, B. Oecologia (2001) 126: 409. doi:10.1007/s004420000538


We examined how acceptability characteristics displayed by 28-day-old seedlings of 12 species of Western Australian Proteaceae affect the likelihood of seedling herbivory in the field. The seedling attributes quantified were cotyledon phenolic, cyanide and nitrogen concentrations, and cotyledon area, thickness and specific leaf area. Only phenolic content was significantly correlated (negatively) with field rates of herbivore attack. This finding shows that the phenomenon of selective herbivore attack on seedlings may be influenced by a specific plant life-history trait, (in this case cotyledon phenolic concentration). In addition, we also studied the interaction between fire, serotiny and herbivory in matched burned and unburned plots. Although herbivore activity was greater in unburned plots, weakly serotinous species were as prone to defoliation as congeneric, strongly serotinous species, even though their seedlings recruit successfully in the absence of fire. This result suggests that seedlings of species able to establish between fires are not better defended against the higher levels of herbivory normally associated with unburned vegetation.

Fire Phenolics Seedling herbivory Serotiny Specific leaf area 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 0000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mick E. Hanley
    • 1
  • Byron B. Lamont
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental Biology, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, Australia
  2. 2.Present address: Biodiversity and Ecology Division, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK, e-mail: m.e.hanley@soton.ac.uk, Fax: +44-2380-594269

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