Proposal Title

Determining the Effects of Herbivory on Population Variation in an Herbaceous Plant

Primary Faculty Mentor’s Name

Dr. Kevin Burgess

Proposal Track

Student

Session Format

Poster

Abstract

Plants subjected to herbivory tend to suffer from reductions in fitness. In addition, herbivory may delay reproduction, which in turn may negatively affect certain life history traits. Deer are overabundant and dramatically affect herbaceous plants through herbivory, possibly leading to selection for tolerance. The environment and length of the growing season can also affect tolerance to herbivory. This research investigated potential evolutionary responses to variation in herbivory. Specifically, it used the model organism American Bellflower [C. americanum] to investigate whether plants have evolved to tolerate deer herbivory and if tolerance varies among populations. Using this plant species, delays in reproduction associated with herbivory among populations were compared to determine if this could result in observed life history schedules. To provide insight into the selection pressure by deer on C. americanum, this project determined if deer preference depends on population or plant size. There is phenological variation among these populations, therefore we experimentally evaluated whether this difference in phenology contribute to response to herbivory by using three clipping treatments 1) plants clipped at the same calendar date, 2) plants clipped at a similar phenological stage, and 3) controls (unclipped). Additional plants open to natural deer herbivory were also observed and the fitness components of these plants were compared to those plants kept from natural herbivory. Population variation in tolerance to herbivory was determined by measuring vegetative growth and reproductive fitness components. This research project took place in Michigan and Georgia to allow the role of growing season on tolerance to deer herbivory to be evaluated. Knowledge of the association between deer herbivory and C. americanum performance and reproductive phenology will directly inform understanding of evolutionary responses to herbivory. The research will determine if tolerance to herbivory and delays in reproductive phenology following herbivory vary among populations and if this difference depends on environment.

Keywords

Botany, Evolution, Genetics, Campanula americana, Herbivory, Herbivores, Deer, Tolerance, Plant genetics

Award Consideration

1

Location

Concourse/Atrium

Presentation Year

2014

Start Date

11-15-2014 9:40 AM

End Date

11-15-2014 10:55 AM

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Nov 15th, 9:40 AM Nov 15th, 10:55 AM

Determining the Effects of Herbivory on Population Variation in an Herbaceous Plant

Concourse/Atrium

Plants subjected to herbivory tend to suffer from reductions in fitness. In addition, herbivory may delay reproduction, which in turn may negatively affect certain life history traits. Deer are overabundant and dramatically affect herbaceous plants through herbivory, possibly leading to selection for tolerance. The environment and length of the growing season can also affect tolerance to herbivory. This research investigated potential evolutionary responses to variation in herbivory. Specifically, it used the model organism American Bellflower [C. americanum] to investigate whether plants have evolved to tolerate deer herbivory and if tolerance varies among populations. Using this plant species, delays in reproduction associated with herbivory among populations were compared to determine if this could result in observed life history schedules. To provide insight into the selection pressure by deer on C. americanum, this project determined if deer preference depends on population or plant size. There is phenological variation among these populations, therefore we experimentally evaluated whether this difference in phenology contribute to response to herbivory by using three clipping treatments 1) plants clipped at the same calendar date, 2) plants clipped at a similar phenological stage, and 3) controls (unclipped). Additional plants open to natural deer herbivory were also observed and the fitness components of these plants were compared to those plants kept from natural herbivory. Population variation in tolerance to herbivory was determined by measuring vegetative growth and reproductive fitness components. This research project took place in Michigan and Georgia to allow the role of growing season on tolerance to deer herbivory to be evaluated. Knowledge of the association between deer herbivory and C. americanum performance and reproductive phenology will directly inform understanding of evolutionary responses to herbivory. The research will determine if tolerance to herbivory and delays in reproductive phenology following herbivory vary among populations and if this difference depends on environment.