Simulated herbivory limits phenotypic responsesTo drought in Convolvulus demissus Choisy(Convolvulaceae)
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Drought and herbivory are important stress factors for plants. When plants are subjected to any form of stress, phenotypic responses are elicited to reduce damage. Responses to drought include a decrease in leaf area and aerial biomass, and an increase in root/shoot ratio of biomass allocation. If plants are subjected to drought and herbivory at the same time, constrained responses are expected due to resource limitation. In a greenhouse experiment we analyzed the effect of simulated herbivory on the ability to respond to drought stress in seedlings of the Chilean perennial herb Convolvulus demissus (Convolvulaceae), which in natural populations may experience water deficit during dry summers as well as grazing by mammals. Plants subjected to drought showed the phenotypic responses theoretically expected. In contrast, plants subjected to a combined drought + herbivory treatment did not show those responses, being phenotypically similar to control plants. It is suggested that herbivory may limit responses to drought in C. demissus, hence magnifying the negative consequences on plant fitness of such abiotic factor.
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