, Volume 14, Issue 4-6, pp 331-352

Will plant vigor and tolerance be genetically correlated? Effects of intrinsic growth rate and self-limitation on regrowth

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Plants are known to maintain fitness despite herbivore attack by a variety of damage-induced mechanisms. These mechanisms are said to confer tolerance, which can be measured as the slope of fitness over the proportion of plant biomass removed by herbivore damage. It was recently supposed by Stowe et al. (2000) that another plant property, general vigor, has little effect on tolerance. We developed simple models of annual monocarpic plants to determine if a genetic change in components of growth vigor will also change the fitness reaction to damage. We examined the impact of intrinsic growth rate on the tolerance reaction norm slope assuming plants grow geometrically, i.e., without self-limitation. In this case an increase in intrinsic growth rate decreases tolerance (the reaction norm slope becomes more negative). A logistic growth model was used to examine the impact of self-limiting growth on the relationship between intrinsic growth rate and the tolerance reaction norm slope. With self-limitation, the relationship is sensitive to the timing of attack. When attack is early and there is time for regrowth, increasing growth rate increases tolerance (slope becomes less negative). The time limitations imposed by late attack prevent appreciable regrowth and induce a negative relationship between growth rate and tolerance. In neither of these simple cases will the correlation between vigor and tolerance constrain selection on either trait. However, a positive correlation between growth rate and self-limitation will favor fast growth/strong self-limitation in a high-damage environment, but slow growth/weak self-limitation in a low-damage environment. Thus, fundamental growth rules that determine vigor have constitutive effects on tolerance. The net costs and benefits of damage-induced tolerance mechanisms will thus be influenced by the background imposed by fundamental growth rules.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.