Plant life-history strategies associated with resource acquisition and economics (e.g. leaf habit) are thought to be fundamental determinants of the traits and mechanisms that drive herbivore pressure, resource allocation to plant defensive traits, and the simultaneous expression (positive correlations) or trade-offs (negative correlations) between these defensive traits. In particular, it is expected that evergreen species – which usually grow slower and support constant herbivore pressure in comparison with deciduous species – will exhibit higher levels of both physical and chemical defences and a higher predisposition to the simultaneous expression of physical and chemical defensive traits. Here, by using a dataset which included 56 oak species (Quercus genus), we investigated whether leaf habit of plant species governs the investment in both physical and chemical defences and pair-wise correlations between these defensive traits. Our results showed that leaf habit does not determine the production of most leaf physical and chemical defences. Although evergreen oak species had higher levels of leaf toughness and specific leaf mass (physical defences) than deciduous oak species, both traits are essentially prerequisites for evergreenness. Similarly, our results also showed that leaf habit does not determine pair-wise correlations between defensive traits because most physical and chemical defensive traits were simultaneously expressed in both evergreen and deciduous oak species. Our findings indicate that leaf habit does not substantially contribute to oak species differences in plant defence investment.
- Resource availability hypothesis
- phenolic compounds
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science