, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 439–445 | Cite as

Seasonal variation in leaf chemistry of the coast live oak Quercus agrifolia and implications for the California oak moth Phryganidia californica

  • Yves Mauffette
  • Walter C. Oechel
Original Papers


The perennial foliage of the California coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia Nee) permits herbivores to feed on this oak species throughout the year. Patterns of herbivory for a two-year period on Q. agrifolia were observed in relation to seasonal and age-related changes in the nutritional and defensive characteristics of leaves. Nitrogen and phosphorus contents were higher in new leaves compared to mature foliage. Structural compounds (e.g., cellulose) in leaves rapidly increased with age. Concentrations of tatal phenolics (Folin-Denis) and astringency were higher in new foliage, and concentrations of condensed tannins gradually increased as the leaves matured. Peaks of herbivore damage were observed in June and in September–October, and were caused by outbreaks of the California oak moth (Phryganidia californica). P. californica, a bivoltine oak specialist, exhibited feeding preferences in June for old leaves over emerging leaves, and showed no preferences for leaf classes in September. These results suggest that P. californica is adapted to survive on nutritionally poor foliage and to circumvent “quantitative defenses” such as condensed tannins.

Key words

Herbivory Quercus Coast live oak Evergreen Phryganidia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Mauffette
    • 1
  • Walter C. Oechel
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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