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Genetic variation in resistance of Eucalyptus globulus to marsupial browsers

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O'Reilly-Wapstra, JM and McArthur, C and Potts, BM (2002) Genetic variation in resistance of Eucalyptus globulus to marsupial browsers. Oecologia, 130 (2). pp. 289-296. ISSN 0029-8549

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Abstract

The evolution of plant defensive traits in response to selection pressures imposed by herbivores is central to co-evolutionary theory. To demonstrate the role of herbivores as selective agents on plant resistance there must be variability in plant resistance to herbivores within a plant population. This variability must be under genetic control, and the variability in plant resistant traits and consequently herbivore damage to plants must reflect variability in plant fitness. We used a common eucalypt species, Eucalyptus globulus, and two major mammalian herbivores, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the red-bellied pademelon (Thylogale billardierii), as a system to investigate intraspecific variation in plant resistance to mammalian herbivores and to investigate if this variation has a genetic basis. We measured mammalian browsing damage on 2,302 individual trees of E. globulus, from 563 families derived from range-wide native stand seed collections of known pedigree and grown in a common environment field trial. Using a selection of trees from the field trial we then conducted a feeding trial with captive herbivores to assess if the genetic variation in plant resistance in the field was reflected in feeding preferences of captive animals, as measured by relative intake. Results from the field trial showed significant genetic variation in plant resistance amongst races, localities and amongst different families. These results were consolidated in the captive trial with similar trends in genetic variation among E. globulus localities. Dry matter intake of foliage by Trichosurus vulpecula was consistently greater than that by Thylogale billardierii; however, the intraspecific preferences of the two herbivores were significantly correlated.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Plant · Mammal interactions · Co-evolution · Selection · Herbivory
Journal or Publication Title: Oecologia
Page Range: pp. 289-296
ISSN: 0029-8549
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1007/s004420100797
Additional Information: BM Potts. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2008 06:04
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:49
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/7403
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