Article: article from journal or magazin.
Sex-differential herbivory in androdioecious Mercurialis annua.
Males of plants with separate sexes are often more prone to attack by herbivores than females. A common explanation for this pattern is that individuals with a greater male function suffer more from herbivory because they grow more quickly, drawing more heavily on resources for growth that might otherwise be allocated to defence. Here, we test this 'faster-sex' hypothesis in a species in which males in fact grow more slowly than hermaphrodites, the wind-pollinated annual herb Mercurialis annua. We expected greater herbivory in the faster-growing hermaphrodites. In contrast, we found that males, the slower sex, were significantly more heavily eaten by snails than hermaphrodites. Our results thus reject the faster-sex hypothesis and point to the importance of a trade-off between defence and reproduction rather than growth.
Animals, Euphorbiaceae/parasitology, Euphorbiaceae/physiology, Helix (Snails)/physiology, Pollination/physiology, Predatory Behavior/physiology, Reproducibility of Results
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