Compensatory Reproduction in a Biennial Herb following Insect Defloration
The ability of the biennial herb, Pastinaca sativa L. (wild parsnip), to respond to and compensate for destruction of primary umbel seeds by the larvae of Depressaria pastinacella (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae) was analyzed by comparing umbel and seed production of damaged and undamaged plants collected from five populations. Plants with a basal stem diameter smaller than 8 mm suffer a reduction in seed set of about 50% when the primary umbel is destroyed but larger plants are able to compensate for loss of primary umbel seeds by increased seed set of tertiary umbels. Depending on plant size, this is due to either an increase in the number of tertiary umbels that reach maturity or an increase in the number of seeds per tertiary umbel. Although seeds of tertiary umbels are significantly smaller than those of primary or secondary umbels, their viability is equivalent to that of secondary seeds and may be greater than that of primary seeds. Characteristics of P. sativa's reproduction, such as the long flowering period and the initiation of more umbels than the plant is normally able to bring to maturity, are important to P. sativa's ability to compensate for the effects of herbivore damage.
Published Article/Book Citation
Oecologia, 42:1 (1979) pp. 107-118.
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