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The impact of altitude and simulated herbivory on the growth and carbohydrate storage of Petasites albus


, : The impact of altitude and simulated herbivory on the growth and carbohydrate storage of Petasites albus. Plant Biology 6(6): 740-745

We tested the hypothesis that higher respiratory losses caused by higher temperatures in the lowlands, compared to montane sites, prevent growth of the montane hemicryptophyte Petasites albus (Asteraceae). In addition, we tested whether increased levels of herbivory enhanced carbon losses at lower elevations. Rhizomes of Petasites albus were transplanted to a montane and a lowland site. In the subsequent three growing seasons the plants were artificially defoliated to simulate mollusc herbivory. Whereas there were no altitudinal differences in the leaf number per plant, the leaf area was higher at the montane site. At the montane site, the leaf number and leaf area decreased with increasing damage, and the rhizome dry weight in the third year was much higher in the undamaged plants. In contrast, fructan concentrations in the rhizomes that were harvested at the end and at the beginning of the growing seasons were generally higher at the lowland site. No clear defoliation effects were observed on most harvest dates. The results indicate that the lower altitudinal limit of Petasites albus cannot be explained by the negative effects of higher temperatures or more leaf damage by herbivores in the lowlands, either alone or in combination. An explanation will require consideration of other site factors such as competition and possibly interactions with herbivory and carbohydrate storage.

US$19.90

PMID: 15570480

DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-830352


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