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Specificity of induced plant responses to specialist herbivores of the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca

Summary: Specificity of induced plant responses to specialist herbivores of the
common milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Peter A. Van Zandt and Anurag A. Agrawal
Van Zandt, P. A. and Agrawal, A. A. 2004. Specificity of induced plant responses to
specialist herbiores of the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. / Oikos 104: 401/409.
Induced plant responses to herbivory appear to be universal, yet the degree to which
they are specific to sets of herbivores is poorly understood. The generalist/specialist
hypothesis predicts that generalist herbivores are more often negatively affected by host
plant defenses, wheras specialists may be either unaffected by or attracted to these same
``plant defenses''. Therefore, specialists should be less predictable than generalists in
their responses to induced plant resistance traits. To better understand the variation in
plant responses to herbivore attack, and the impacts these responses have on specialist
herbivores, we conducted a series of experiments examining pairwise interactinos
between two specialaist herbivores of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). We
damaged plants mechnically, with swamp milkweed beetles (Labidomera clivicollis), or
with monarchs (Danaus plexippus), and then asessed specificity of elicitation, both by
measuring a putative defensive trait (latex volume) and by challenging plants with
insects of both species in bioasays. Latex production increased by 34% and 13%
following beetle and monarch herbivory, respectively, but only beetles significantly
elevated latex production compared to undamaged controls. While beetle growth was


Source: Agrawal, Anurag - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Entomollogy, Cornell University
Van Zandt, Peter - Biology Department, Birmingham-Southern College


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology