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Urbanization alters plastic responses in the common dandelion

Cite this dataset

Pisman, Matti; Bonte, Dries; de la Pena, Eduardo (2021). Urbanization alters plastic responses in the common dandelion [Dataset]. Dryad.


Urban environments expose species to contrasting selection pressures relative to rural areas due to altered microclimatic conditions, habitat fragmentation and changes in species interactions. To improve our understanding on how urbanisation impacts selection through biotic interactions, we assessed differences in plant defence and tolerance, dispersal and flowering phenology of a common plant species (Taraxacum officinale) along an urbanization gradient and their reaction norms in response to a biotic stressor (i.e. herbivory). We raised plants from 45 lines collected along an urbanization gradient under common garden conditions and assessed the impact of herbivory on plant growth (i.e aboveground biomass), dispersal capacity (i.e. seed morphology) and plant phenology (i.e. early seed production) by exposing half of our plants to two events of herbivory (i.e. grazing by locusts). Independent from their genetic background, all plants, consistently increased their resistance to herbivores by which the second exposure to locusts resulted in lower levels of damage suffered. Herbivory had consistent effects on seed pappus length, with seeds showing a longer pappus (and hence, increased dispersal capacities) regardless of urbanization level. Aboveground plant biomass was neither affected by urbanization nor herbivore presence. In contrast to consistent responses in plant defences and pappus length, plant fitness did vary between lines. Urban lines had a reduced early seed production following herbivory while rural and suburban lines did not show any plastic response. Our results show that herbivory affects plant phenotypes but more importantly, that differences in herbivory reaction norms exist between urban and rural populations.

Usage notes

Data is listed in seperate tabs within the excel file for each analysis performed, in the order of mentioning within the paper.