Sexual differences in flower defense and correlated male-biased florivory in a plant-florivore system

  • Tsuji K
  • Sota T
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Abstract

Male-biased fl orivory is a prominent phenomenon in the interaction between plants and fl orivores, and is potentially related to the evolution of fl ower traits and sex expression; however, its adaptive signifi cance is not well understood. We studied fl orivory in the geometrid moth Chloroclystis excisa utilizing fl ower buds of a sexually polymorphic shrub, Eurya japonica , to reveal relationships between fl ower sex and moth oviposition preference, moth larval performance, and plant phenolics composition. In the fi eld, C. excisa exploited fl ower buds on male and hermaphrodite trees but never those on female trees . In the laboratory, moths showed a strong oviposition preference for male over female fl ower buds, and lar- vae did not survive on female buds. Mortality was caused solely by feeding on the calyx covering the female bud. Female calyces contained higher concentrations of total phenolics and condensed tannins than did male calyces. T ese results sug- gest that substantial sexual diff erences in defense against fl orivory may have evolved in association with the diff erentiation of fl ower sexes and that a strong preference for the weakly defended fl ower sex may have evolved in fl orivores as a counter- adaptation.

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