, Volume 160, Issue 1, pp 77–86 | Cite as

Spatial variability in seed predation in Primula farinosa: local population legacy versus patch selection

  • Didrik VanhoenackerEmail author
  • Jon Ågren
  • Johan Ehrlén
Plant-Animal Interactions - Original Paper


Spatio-temporal variation in seed predation may strongly influence both plant population dynamics and selection on plant traits. The intensity of seed predation may depend on a number of factors, but the relative importance of previous predator abundance (“local legacy”), spatial distribution of the host plant, environmental factors and plant characteristics has been explored in few species. We monitored seed predation in the perennial herb Primula farinosa, which is dimorphic for scape length, during 5 consecutive years, in a 10-km × 4-km area comprising 79 P. farinosa populations. A transplant experiment showed that the seed predator, the oligophagous tortricid moth Falseuncaria ruficiliana, was not dispersal limited at the spatial scale corresponding to typical distances between P. farinosa populations. Correlations between population characteristics and incidence and intensity of seed predation varied among years. The incidence of the seed predator was positively correlated with host population size and mean number of flowers, while intensity of seed predation in occupied patches was positively related to the frequency of the long-scaped morph in 2 years and negatively related to host population size in 1 year. In both scape morphs, predation tended to increase with increasing frequency of the long morph. There was no evidence of a local legacy; incidence and intensity of seed predation were not related to the abundance of the seed predator in the population in the previous year. Taken together, the results indicate that among-population variation in seed predation intensity is determined largely by patch selection and that the seed predator’s preference for tall and many-flowered inflorescences may not only affect selection on plant traits within host plant populations, but also the overall intensity of seed predation.


Floral display Metapopulation Polymorphism Population density Tortricidae 



We thank Christer Wiklund for moth breeding facilities, Bert Gustafsson and Ingvar Svensson for information on moth ecology, Peter Hambäck, Hugo von Zeipel, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript, Länsstyrelsen in Kalmar for permission to work in Karlevi nature reserve, and landowners at the study site. The study was based at the Ecological Research Station of Uppsala University in Skogsby, and was financially supported by grants from FORMAS (The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning; to J. Å. and J. E.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Didrik Vanhoenacker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jon Ågren
    • 2
  • Johan Ehrlén
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Plant Ecology/Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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