, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 544–548

Leaf palatability, life expectancy and herbivore damage

  • T. R. E. Southwood
  • V. K. Brown
  • P. M. Reader
Original Papers


Observations on leaves from plants with a wide range of life-forms, ruderals to trees, indicate that palatability to insect herbivores is strongly correlated with the life-expectancy of the leaves. The amount of damage suffered in the field is however inversely correlated with palatability; although the rate of damage is less on unpalatable leaves, their longer life means that they accumulate damage over a longer period. It is only with extremely well-defended evergreen leaves, that the total damage is less than that experienced by less palatable (but short-lived) leaves. These observations are related to the current theories on relative palatability (the apparency theory and the resource availability theory), within the framework of the habitat templet.

Key words

Leaves Palatability Life-expectancy Herbivory Apparency 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. E. Southwood
    • 1
  • V. K. Brown
    • 2
  • P. M. Reader
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Pure and Applied BiologyImperial CollegeLondonUK

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