, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 224–234

Herbivore effects on developmental instability and fecundity of holm oaks

  • Mario Díaz
  • Fernando J. Pulido
  • Anders P. Møller
Plant Animal Interactions

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-004-1491-9

Cite this article as:
Díaz, M., Pulido, F.J. & Møller, A.P. Oecologia (2004) 139: 224. doi:10.1007/s00442-004-1491-9


Plants are able to compensate for loss of tissue due to herbivores at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, masking detrimental effects of herbivory on plant fitness at these scales. The stressing effect of herbivory could also produce instability in the development of plant modules, and measures of such instability may reflect the fitness consequences of herbivory if instability is related to components of plant fitness. We analyse the relationships between herbivory, developmental instability and production of female flowers and fruits of holm oak Quercus ilex trees by means of herbivore removal experiments. Removal of leaf herbivores reduced herbivory rates at the tree level, but had no effect on mean production of female flowers or mature fruits, whereas herbivory tended to enhance flower production and had no effect on fruit abortion at the shoot level. Differences in herbivory levels between shoots of the same branch did not affect the size and fluctuating asymmetry of intact leaves. These results indicate compensation for herbivory at the tree level and over-compensation at the shoot level in terms of allocation of resources to female flower production. Removal of insect herbivores produced an increase in the mean developmental instability of leaves at the tree level in the year following the insecticide treatment, and there was a direct relationship between herbivory rates in the current year and leaf fluctuating asymmetry the following year irrespective of herbivore removal treatment. Finally, the production of pistillate flowers and fruits by trees was inversely related to the mean fluctuating asymmetry of leaves growing the same year. Leaf fluctuating asymmetry was thus an estimator of the stressing effects of herbivory on adult trees, an effect that was delayed to the following year. As leaf fluctuating asymmetry was also related to tree fecundity, asymmetry levels provided a sensitive measure of plant performance under conditions of compensatory responses to herbivory.


Compensation Flower production Fluctuating asymmetry Leaves Spatial scales 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario Díaz
    • 1
  • Fernando J. Pulido
    • 2
  • Anders P. Møller
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales, Facultad de Ciencias del Medio AmbienteUniversidad de Castilla-La ManchaToledoSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología y Producción de los Vegetales, E.U.I.T. Forestal, Centro UniversitarioUniversidad de ExtremaduraPlasenciaSpain
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103Université Pierre et Marie CurieParis Cedex 05France

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