Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Differential growth responses in seedlings of ten species of Dipterocarpaceae to experimental shading and defoliation

  • C. E. Timothy Paine (a1), Martin Stenflo (a1), Christopher D. Philipson (a1), Philippe Saner (a1), Robert Bagchi (a2), Robert C. Ong (a3) and Andy Hector (a1)...

The responses of plants to shade and foliar herbivory jointly affect growth rates and community assembly. We grew 600 seedlings of ten species of the economically important Dipterocarpaceae in experimental gradients of shading (0.3–47.0% of full sunlight) and defoliation (0, 25%, 50% or 75% of leaf area removed). We assessed stem diameters initially, after 2 and 4 mo, and calculated relative growth rates (RGR) with a linear model. Shading interacted with defoliation, reducing RGR by 21.6% in shaded conditions and 8.9% in well-lit conditions. We tested three hypotheses for interspecific trade-offs in growth responses to shading and defoliation. They could be positively related, because both reduce a plant's access to carbon, or inversely related because of trade-offs between herbivore resistance and tolerance. We observed, however, that species varied in their response to shading, but not defoliation, precluding an interspecific trade-off and suggesting that plants tolerate shade and herbivory with differing strategies. Shading most strongly reduced the growth of species with less-dense wood and larger seeds. The strong and variable growth responses to shade, contrasted with the weak and uniform responses to defoliation, suggest that variation in light availability more strongly affects the growth of tropical tree seedlings, and thus community assembly, than does variation in herbivory.

Corresponding author
1Corresponding author. Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E. BARAZA , J. M. GÓMEZ , J. A. HÓDAR & R. ZAMORA 2004. Herbivory has a greater impact in shade than in sun: response of Quercus pyrenaica seedlings to multifactorial environmental variation. Canadian Journal of Botany 82:357364.

P. D. COLEY & J. A. BARONE 1996. Herbivory and plant defenses in tropical forests. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 27:305335.

S. A. DUDLEY & J. SCHMITT 1996. Testing the adaptive plasticity hypothesis: density-dependent selection on manipulated stem length in Impatiens capensis. American Naturalist 147:445465.

M. P. EICHHORN , R. NILUS , S. G. COMPTON , S. E. HARTLEY & D. F. R. P. BURSLEM 2010. Herbivory of tropical rain forest tree seedlings correlates with future mortality. Ecology 91:10921101.

P. V. A. FINE , I. MESONES & P. D. COLEY 2004. Herbivores promote habitat specialization by trees in Amazonian forests. Science 305:663665.

J. GRIME 1977. Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory. American Naturalist 111:11691194.

R. KOBE 1997. Carbohydrate allocation to storage as a basis of interspecific variation in sapling survivorship and growth. Oikos 80:226233.

R. M. LANDIS & D. R. PEART 2005. Early performance predicts canopy attainment across life histories in subalpine forest trees. Ecology 86:6372.

R. LEIMU & J. KORICHEVA 2006. A meta-analysis of tradeoffs between plant tolerance and resistance to herbivores: combining the evidence from ecological and agricultural studies. Oikos 112:19.

J. MASCHINSKI & T. G. WHITHAM 1989. The continuum of plant responses to herbivory: the influence of plant association, nutrient availability, and timing. American Naturalist 134:119.

J. NÚÑEZ-FARFÁN , J. FORNONI & P. L. VALVERDE 2007. The evolution of resistance and tolerance to herbivores. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 38:541566.

C. E. T. PAINE , T. R. MARTHEWS , D. R. VOGT , D. W. PURVES , M. REES , A. HECTOR & L. A. TURNBULL 2012. How to fit nonlinear plant growth models and calculate growth rates: an update for ecologists. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3:245256.

T. R. H. PEARSON , D. F. R. P. BURSLEM , R. E. GOERIZ & J. W. DALLING 2003. Interactions of gap size and herbivory on establishment, growth and survival of three species of neotropical pioneer trees. Journal of Ecology 91:785796.

W. E. ROGERS & E. SIEMANN 2002. Effects of simulated herbivory and resource availability on native and invasive exotic tree seedlings. Basic and Applied Ecology 3:297307.

P. SANER , C. D. PHILIPSON , R. C. ONG , N. MAJALAP , S. EGLI & A. HECTOR 2010. Positive effects of ectomycorrhizal colonization on growth of seedlings of a tropical tree across a range of forest floor light conditions. Plant and Soil 338:411421.

P. SANER , Y. Y. LOH , R. C. ONG & A. HECTOR 2012. Carbon stocks and fluxes in tropical lowland dipterocarp rainforests in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. PloS ONE 7:e29642.

B. SHIPLEY , M. J. LECHOWICZ , I. J. WRIGHT & P. B. REICH 2006. Fundamental trade-offs generating the worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Ecology 87:535541.

S. Y. STRAUSS & A. A. AGRAWAL 1999. The ecology and evolution of plant tolerance to herbivory. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14:179185.

F. VALLADARES & Ü. NIINEMETS 2008. Shade tolerance, a key plant feature of complex nature and consequences. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 39:237257.

A. R. ZANGERL , J. G. HAMILTON , T. J. MILLER , A. R. CROFTS , K. OXBOROUGH , M. R. BERENBAUM & E. H. DE LUCIA 2002. Impact of folivory on photosynthesis is greater than the sum of its holes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 99:10881091.

P. A. ZUIDEMA , R. J. W. BRIENEN , H. J. DURING & B. GÜNERALP 2009. Do persistently fast-growing juveniles contribute disproportionately to population growth? A new analysis tool for matrix models and its application to rainforest trees. American Naturalist 174:709719.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 12 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 239 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.