Title Does pre-dispersal seed predation limit reproduction and population growth in the alpine clonal plant Geum reptans?
Author/s Tina Weppler, Jürg Stöcklin
Year 2006
Journal Plant Ecology: online DOI 10.1007/s11258-006-9141-4
Abstract We studied the impact of the seed damaging gall midge larva Geomyia alpina on its perennial alpine host plant Geum reptans. We analysed the effect of seed predation on reproduction by seeds, i.e. seed number, seed mass, and seed viability and on growth and clonal propagation of non-protected plants in comparison to plants protected from predation by an insecticide. Additionally, we assessed the consequences of seed predation for population growth using matrix projection modelling. Seed predation resulted in a decrease in total seed mass per flower head by 23.8% in non-protected plants (P < 0.05). Individual seed mass decreased with increasing infestation intensity (P < 0.05). Seed number remained unaffected because the sucking feeding behaviour by gall midge larvae does not evoke seed abortion. Percent germination of seeds from non-protected plants was reduced by 97.9% compared to seeds from protected plants. According to reduced seed viability, modelling revealed a decrease in population growth rate from _ = 1.055 to _ = 1.041. Predation did neither influence total plant biomass nor biomass fractions. But stolon dry-weight of non-protected plants increased by 24.1% (P < 0.05), which may indicate a trade-off between sexual reproduction and clonal propagation. Our results demonstrate that despite substantial reduction of viable seeds, predation by gall midge larvae only slightly affected population growth of G. reptans suggesting that in this alpine species, persistence by longevity and clonal propagation can balance potential seed losses by predation, at least for local population growth.
Keywords Clonal growth · Gall midge · Geomyia alpina · Herbivory · Matrix projection modeling
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