Life-history constraints in grassland plant species : a growth-defence trade-off is the norm

Lind, Eric M., Borer, Elizabeth, Seabloom, Eric, Adler, Peter, Bakker, Jonathan D., Blumenthal, Dana M., Crawley, Mick, Davies, Kendi, Firn, Jennifer, Gruner, Daniel S., Stanley Harpole, W., Hautier, Yann, Hillebrand, Helmut, Knops, Johannes, Melbourne, Brett, Mortensen, Brent, Risch, Anita C., Schuetz, Martin, Stevens, Carly, & Wragg, Peter D. (2013) Life-history constraints in grassland plant species : a growth-defence trade-off is the norm. Ecology Letters, 16(4), pp. 513-521.

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Plant growth can be limited by resource acquisition and defence against consumers, leading to contrasting trade-off possibilities. The competition-defence hypothesis posits a trade-off between competitive ability and defence against enemies (e.g. herbivores and pathogens). The growth-defence hypothesis suggests that strong competitors for nutrients are also defended against enemies, at a cost to growth rate. We tested these hypotheses using observations of 706 plant populations of over 500 species before and following identical fertilisation and fencing treatments at 39 grassland sites worldwide. Strong positive covariance in species responses to both treatments provided support for a growth-defence trade-off: populations that increased with the removal of nutrient limitation (poor competitors) also increased following removal of consumers. This result held globally across 4 years within plant life-history groups and within the majority of individual sites. Thus, a growth-defence trade-off appears to be the norm, and mechanisms maintaining grassland biodiversity may operate within this constraint.

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ID Code: 61937
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Coexistence, Competition-defence Hypothesis, Life History, Mammalian Herbivory, Nutrient Network (Nut-Net), Resource Limitation, Tolerance, Top-down Bottom-up, Trade-offs
DOI: 10.1111/ele.12078
ISSN: 1461-023X
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2013 06:45
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2013 22:49

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