Evol Ecol Res 11: 447-470 (2009)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Optimal energy allocation to growth, reproduction, and production of defensive substances in plants: a model

Mariusz Krzysztof Janczur

Research Group in Behavioural Biology and Conservation, Department of Natural Sciences, National Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, Toluca, Mexico and Research Group in Life History Evolution, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Correspondence: M.K. Janczur, Department of Natural Sciences, National Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, Carretera Toluca-Tlachaloya, km 18, Cerrillo Piedras Blancas, CP 50200 Toluca, Estado de México, México.
e-mail: majmx@interia.pl


Question: Does allocation to the production of defensive substances in plants affect such characteristics as growth rate, time of maturation, size at maturity, current and lifetime reproductive success?

Numerical method: Dynamic programming algorithm to analyse the optimal energy allocation to growth, reproduction, and production of defensive substances.

Key assumptions: The production of defensive substances requires energy that should be diverted from other processes. The plants live in a non-seasonal environment. Defensive substances are non-degradable substances (e.g. tannins).

Predictions: Optimal energy allocation responds to level of herbivory, intrinsic properties of a plant to produce defensive substances (α), and external mortality. High levels of herbivory and low external mortality promote the production of defensive substances. Low herbivory pressure, as well as high external mortality, make the production of defensive substances non-optimal and favour the simultaneous allocation of energy to growth and reproduction. Plants with this strategy lose their vegetative mass after maturation. A negative exponential decrease in herbivory with an increase in the concentration of defensive substances promotes simultaneous allocation of energy to growth and reproduction after maturation for some values of α and some efficiencies of defensive substances.

Keywords: dynamic state variable model, herbivory, life history, resistance, resource allocation, tolerance.

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