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Interactions between herbivory and pollination: consequences for plant fitness

Period: October 2009 till September 2014
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Inbreeding; Pollination

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • Vlaamse overheid; Beleidsdomein Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken; Vlaams Ministerie Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken; Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken; Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium (WL), more, sponsor
  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Onderzoeksgroep Terrestrische Ecologie (TEREC), more, organiser

Herbivores are often the most important environmental variable affecting plant fitness; this is emphasized by the numerous plant resistance and tolerance mechanisms that have evolved against herbivory. Typically, the impact of herbivory has been assessed by measuring fruit and seed production. Recently there has been growing interest in the effects herbivores may have on pollination. Herbivores can affect plant traits that influence pollinator attraction and in this way they can affect pollinator foraging behaviour. This foraging behaviour determines the quantity and quality of pollen deposited on the stigma and consequently, it affects plant reproductive output and fitness of the offspring. Some aspects that will be investigated in further detail are:

  • The effects of herbivory on plant traits and on pollinator foraging behaviour
  • The effects of herbivory (whether or not linked with pollination) on reproduction and on fitness of the offspring at several life stages
  • The occurrence and consequences of geitonogamy and selfing in response to herbivory
  • The effects of inbreeding on several plant fitness traits including defence against herbivory and pollinator attraction
  • Differences between plant populations in their response to herbivory at a local as well as at a regional scale

The study system in which these questions are investigated involves Cynoglossum officinale, its pollinators and the specialist root herbivore Mogulones cruciger.

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