Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 208–210 | Cite as

Nutrient stress: an explanation for plant anti-herbivore responses to defoliation

  • Juha Tuomi
  • Pekka Niemelä
  • Erkki Haukioja
  • Seija Sirén
  • Seppo Neuvonen
Original Papers

Summary

A hypothesis is put forward that the long-lasting inducible responses of trees to herbivores, particularly lepidopteran defoliators, may not be active defensive responses, but a by-product of mechanisms which rearrange the plant carbon/nutrient balance in response to nutrient stress caused by defoliation. When defoliation removes the foliage nutrients of trees growing in nutrient-poor soils, it increases nutrient stress wich in turn results in a high production of carbon-based allelochemicals. The excess of carbon that cannot be diverted to growth due to nutrient stress is diverted to the production of plant secondary metabolites. The level of carbon-based secondary substances decays gradually depending on the rate at which nutrient stress is relaxed after defoliation. In nutrient-poor soils and in plant species with slow compensatory nutrient uptake rates the responses induced by defoliation can have relaxation times of several years. The changes in leaf nitrogen and phenolic content of mountain birch support this nutrient stress hypothesis. Defoliation reduces leaf nitrogen content while phenolic content increases. These responses of mountain birch to defoliation are relaxed within 3–4 years.

Keywords

Nitrogen Content Uptake Rate Phenolic Content Leaf Nitrogen Plant Secondary Metabolite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Benz G (1974) Negative Rückkoppelung durch Raum-und Nahrungkonkurrenz sowie zyklische Veränderung der Nahrungsgrundlage als Regelprinzip in der Populationsdynamik des Grauen Lärchenwicklers, Zeiraphera diniana (Guenée) (Lep., Tortricidae). Z angew Ent 76:196–228Google Scholar
  2. Bernays EA (1981) Plant tannins and insect herbivores: an appraisal. Ecol Ent 6:353–360Google Scholar
  3. Bryant JP, Chapin FS III, Klein DR (1983) Carbon/nutrient balance of boreal plants in relation to vertebrate herbivory. Oikos 40:357–368Google Scholar
  4. Chew FS, Rodman JB (1979) Plant resources for chemical defence. In Rosenthal GA, Janzen DH (eds) Herbivores. Their interaction with secondary plant metabolites, pp 271–303. Academic Press New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Feeny PP (1968) Effect of oak leaf tannins on larval growth of the winter moth Operophtera brumata. J Insect Physiol 14:805–817Google Scholar
  6. Harper JL (1977) Population biology of plants. Academic Press LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Haukioja E (1982) Inducible defences of white birch to a geometrid defoliator, Epirrita autumnata. Proc 5th Int Symp Insect-Plant Relationships Wageningen 1982, pp 199–203. Pudoc WageningenGoogle Scholar
  8. Haukioja E, Niemelä P, Iso-Iivari L, Sirén S, Kapiainen K, Laine KJ, Hanhimäki S, Jokinen M (1981) Koivun merkitys tunturimittarin kannanvaihtelussa. (Defence mechanisms in birches and fluctuation of autumnal moth populations.) Luonnon Tutkija 85:127–140 (in Finnish)Google Scholar
  9. Hinneri S (1974) Podzolic processes and bioelement pools in subarctic forest soils at the Kevo Station, Finnish Lapland. Rep Kevo Subarctic Res Stat 11:26–34Google Scholar
  10. Lincoln DE, Newton TS, Ehrlich PR, Williams KS (1982) Coevolution of the checkerspot butterfly Euphydryas chalcedona and its larval food plant Diplacus aurantiacus: Larval response to protein and leaf resin. Oecologia (Berlin) 52:216–223Google Scholar
  11. Mattson WJ (1980) Herbivory in relation to plant nitrogen content. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 11:119–161Google Scholar
  12. Myers JH (1981) Interactions between western tent caterpillars and wild rose: a test of some general plant herbivore hypotheses. J Anim Ecol 50:11–25Google Scholar
  13. Ryan CA, Green TR (1974) Proteinase inhibitors in natural plant protection. Recent Adv Phytochem 8:123–140Google Scholar
  14. Schultz JC, Baldwin IT (1982) Oak leaf quality declines in response to defoliation by Gypsy moth larvae. Science 217:149–151Google Scholar
  15. Wallner WE, Walton GS (1979) Host defoliation: a possible determinant of Gypsy moth population quality. Ann Ent Soc Am 76:62–67Google Scholar
  16. Werner RA (1979) Influence of host foliage on development, survival, fecundity and oviposition of the spear-marked moth Rheumaptera hastata (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). Can Ent 111:317–322Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juha Tuomi
    • 1
  • Pekka Niemelä
    • 1
  • Erkki Haukioja
    • 1
  • Seija Sirén
    • 1
  • Seppo Neuvonen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurku 50Finland

Personalised recommendations