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Intraclonal Variation in Defence Substances and Palatability: A Study on Carex and Lemmings

Kari Anne Bråthen, Jep Agrell, Dominique Berteaux and Ingibjörg S. Jónsdóttir
Oikos
Vol. 105, No. 3 (Jun., 2004), pp. 461-470
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3548282
Page Count: 10
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Intraclonal Variation in Defence Substances and Palatability: A Study on Carex and Lemmings
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Abstract

Clonal sedges consist of integrated ramets at different development stages. Many of these sedges are important food for herbivores, yet differences in herbivore preferences and defence allocation between ramet development stages have not previously been evaluated. In this study we investigated intraclonal ramet variation in level of plant defence and nutrient compounds and intraclonal ramet preferences by lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus) in field samples of a rhizomatous sedge (Carex stans). Plant defence was measured as the level of proteinase inhibitor activity (PIA) and the ratio of PIA to soluble plant proteins (SPP), whereas plant nutrients were measured as the level of soluble plant sugars (SPS) and SPP. Flowering ramets generally had a higher content of defence compared to vegetative ramets, which is consistent with the optimal defence theory predicting that defence compounds are allocated to the ramet stage of the highest fitness value. Compared to vegetative ramets, the flowering ramets had a lower content of SPP and a higher content of SPS. The lemmings showed preference differences between the ramet development stages, and to a large extent the ramet content of defence compounds and nutrient compounds covaried with these preferences in the predicted way. This study shows that defence allocation between ramet development stages of the clonal sedge Carex conforms to predictions of the optimal defence theory.

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