, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 442–452 | Cite as

Neighbor species differentially alter resistance phenotypes in Plantago

  • Kasey E. BartonEmail author
  • M. Deane Bowers
Plant Animal Interactions


In this study, we investigated how neighbors (i.e., competitors) altered resistance phenotypes, namely plant size and levels of secondary compounds (iridoid glycosides), of individual plants and specifically tested whether neighbor identity mattered. We conducted a greenhouse experiment with Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major (Plantaginaceae) in which each species served as focal plants as well as neighbors in a factorial design. In addition, we harvested plants six and nine weeks after transplantation to test whether effects changed as plants grew. In both species, competition reduced plant size, and this effect increased over time. Plantago lanceolata neighbors suppressed growth of both focal plant species more than P. major neighbors. Effects of competition on levels of secondary compounds were more complex. Concentrations of iridoid glycosides were increased by competition in both species at harvest one. By the second harvest, an effect of competition on iridoid glycosides was found only in P. major. Neighbor identity influenced levels of iridoid glycosides in P. lanceolata at harvest one; concentrations were higher in plants grown with P. lanceolata neighbors than in plants grown with P. major neighbors. We also tested whether there was a trade-off between growth (biomass) and defense (levels of iridoid glycosides). Biomass and iridoid glycoside content were significantly correlated only in plants grown with competition and harvested at nine weeks, and this relationship was positive in both species, indicating that there was no trade-off between growth and defense. This study suggests that neighbor identity could play an important role in interspecific interactions, including the interactions of plants with other trophic levels.


Allocation costs Competition Iridoid glycosides Phenotypic plasticity Trait-mediated indirect effects 



We would like to thank M.A. de la Fuente, J. Maurer and J. Blake for greenhouse assistance. Thanks to K. Keefover-Ring and M.A. de la Fuente for assistance with the chemical analyses. Statistical advice was provided by D. Liptzin and K. Mooney. This manuscript was improved considerably by valuable comments from Y. Linhart, B. Bowman, J. Maurer, C. Quintero, M. Jamieson, B. Breland, K. Mooney, K. Keefover-Ring and other members of the University of Colorado Plant–Animal Interactions Discussion Group, as well as two anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate student research award to KEB, a Walker Van Riper grant from the University of Colorado Museum to KEB, and a grant from the John Marr Ecology Fund to KEB. This experiment fully complies with the current laws of the United States and the State of Colorado.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Colorado Museum, University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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