Evolution of territoriality by herbivores in response to host plant defenses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Plants may play an active role in the evolution of territoriality and associated animal behaviors such as spacing and cannibalism. I hypothesize that these behaviors have in part evolved in direct response to plant defenses that would otherwise diminish individual success. These defenses limit resource availability and concentrate herbivores at specific sites where they then suffer from induced plant defenses, increased predation and competition. Plant traits that enhance the negative effects of competition and increased predation must be included in the suite of plant defenses against herbivory.In a specific example with Pemphigus gall aphids, plant defenses result in a strong selection pressure favoring territorial behavior. The negative effects of competition give territorial individuals a 2.3-fold advantage over non-territorial individuals. Induced defenses (i.e., density dependent leaf abscission) can be just as important as competition as a selection pressure for territorial behavior. With the addition of induced plant defenses territorial individuals realize a 4.4-fold advantage. Furthermore, rough approximations suggest that in the absence of territorial behavior predation would increase by 52%.The same traits which promote territoriality also encourage cannibalism, a surprisingly common herbivore behavior. To the extent cannibalism reduces the herbivore population, plant traits which promote this behavior may realize a selective advantage.Viewing plants as dynamic rather than passive in their interactions with pests may lead to a better understanding of animal behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1987

Fingerprint

Territoriality
Herbivory
territoriality
herbivores
host plants
Cannibalism
Animals
cannibalism
effect of competition
Animal Behavior
predation
animals
animal behavior
Fold
gall
animal
Plant Tumors
Pemphigus (Aphididae)
Availability
Abscission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Plant Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Evolution of territoriality by herbivores in response to host plant defenses. / Whitham, Thomas G.

In: Integrative and Comparative Biology, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1987, p. 359-369.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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