Defoliation of alders (Alnus glutinosa) affects herbivory by leaf beetles on undamaged neighbours
The effects of defoliation of alder (Alnus glutinosa) on subsequent herbivory by alder leaf beetle (Agelastica alni) were studied in ten alder stands in northern Germany. At each site, one tree was manually defoliated (c. 20% of total foliage) to simulate herbivory. Subsequent damage by A. alni was assessed on ten alders at each site on six different dates from May to September 1994. After defoliation, herbivory by A. alni increased with distance from the defoliated tree. Laboratory experiments supported the field results. Not only leaf damage in the field, but also the extent of leaf consumption in laboratory feeding-preference tests and the number of eggs oviposited per leaf in another laboratory test were positively correlated with distance from the defoliated tree. Resistance was therefore induced not only in defoliated alders, but also in their undamaged neighbours. Consequently, defoliation of alders may trigger interplant resistance transfer, and therefore reduce herbivory in whole alder stands.