Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 14, Issue 4–6, pp 523–536 | Cite as

Mechanisms of tolerance to herbivore damage:what do we know?

  • Peter Tiffin


Identifying mechanisms of tolerance to herbivore damage will facilitate attempts to understand the role of tolerance in the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of plants and herbivores. Investigations of the physiological and morphological changes that occur in plants in response to herbivore damage have identified several potential mechanisms of tolerance. However, it is unlikely that all physiological changes that occur following damage are tolerance mechanisms. Few studies have made direct comparisons between the expression of tolerance and the relative expression of putative mechanisms. I briefly review empirical evidence for some of the better-studied potential mechanisms, including increased photosynthetic activity, compensatory growth, utilization of stored reserves, and phenological delays. For each of these mechanisms I discuss reasons why the relationship between tolerance and these characters may be more complicated than it first appears. I conclude by discussing several empirical approaches, including herbivore manipulations, quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis, and selection experiments, that will further our understanding of tolerance mechanisms.

compensation empirical approaches herbivory plant defense plant–herbivore interaction tolerance mechanisms 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Tiffin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California at IrvineIrvineUSA

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