Plants might allocate chemical defences unequally within attractive units of flowers including petals, sepals, and bracts because of variations in the probability of florivory. Based on optimal defence theory, which predicts that plants allocate higher chemical defences to tissues with higher probabilities of herbivore attack, we predicted that distal parts and sepals would have higher chemical defence allocations than proximal parts and petals. To test this prediction, we compared total phenolics and condensed tannins concentrations as well as presence of florivory within attractive units of ten angiosperm species. In agreement with the prediction, the overall results showed that the distal parts had higher total phenolics and condensed tannins than the proximal parts. On the other hand, contrary to the prediction, petals and sepals showed no tissue-specific variations. Florivory was more severe on the distal parts than the proximal parts, although statistical support for the variation was slightly weak, while the variations in presence of florivory between petals and sepals differed between the distal and proximal parts. These results may support the prediction of the optimal defence theory because distal parts of attractive units had higher presence of florivory and concentration of chemical defences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics