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Experimental Studies on Slug-Plant Interactions: III. Differences in the Acceptability of Individual Plants of Trifolium Repens to Slugs and Snails

Rodolfo Dirzo and John L. Harper
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 70, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 101-117
DOI: 10.2307/2259867
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2259867
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Experimental Studies on Slug-Plant Interactions: III. Differences in the Acceptability of Individual Plants of Trifolium Repens to Slugs and Snails
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Abstract

(1) Differences in the acceptability of individual plants of Trifolium repens (white clover) to four species of slug and snail were investigated. (2) Trials with molluscs, both in the field and in the laboratory, showed that cyanogenesis markedly reduced but did not wholly prevent damage to the clover leaves. (3) In areas of high density of active molluscs the cyanogenic morphs were over-represented, while in areas of low density of active molluscs, the acyanogenic morphs were over-represented. (4) Slugs fed on monotonous diets of lettuce grew considerably faster than did those feeding on monotonous diets of either cyanogenic or acyanogenic clover leaves. Slugs fed on cyanogenic leaves made slightly smaller live-weight gains, or lost weight faster, than did those fed on acyanogenic leaves. (5) Homogenates of the digestive tract of slugs produced cyanogenic reactions with those clover leaves that possessed cyanoglucosides but lacked hydrolysing enzymes, but grazing trials with plants that contained the glucoside but not the enzyme showed that both the enzyme and the glucoside must be present in the clover for the animal to be deterred from feeding. (6) The information obtained is interpreted to suggest a possible co-evolutionary pathway of the mollusc-clover interaction. It is suggested, however, that co-evolutionary interpretations can be inadequate if they do not include evidence that both the plant and the animal have undergone reciprocating selection. If the clover-mollusc system is co-evolved, it is surprising that the genes controlling production of the enzyme and of the glucoside assort independently.

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