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Intraspecific variation in plant economic traits predicts trembling aspen resistance to a generalist insect herbivore

Citation

Morrow, Clay; Lindroth, Richard; Jaeger, Samual (2022), Intraspecific variation in plant economic traits predicts trembling aspen resistance to a generalist insect herbivore, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6wwpzgmzw

Abstract

Patterns of trait expression within some plant species have recently been shown to follow patterns described by the leaf economics spectrum paradigm. Resistance to herbivores is also expected to covary with leaf economics traits. We selected multiple mature Populus tremuloides genotypes from a common garden to assess whether aspen leaf economics patterns follow those observed among species globally. We also evaluated leaf economics strategies in the context of insect resistance by conducting bioassays to determine the effects of plant traits on preference and performance of Lymantria dispar. We found that: 1) intraspecific trait patterns of P. tremuloides parallel those exhibited by the interspecific leaf economics spectrum, 2) herbivores preferred leaves from genotypes with resource-acquisitive strategies, and 3) herbivores also performed best on genotypes with resource-acquisitive strategies. We conclude that a leaf economics spectrum that incorporates defense traits is a useful tool for explaining intraspecific patterns of variation in plant strategies, including resistance to herbivores.

Funding

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 2016-7013-25088

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: WIS01651