Seed size and the evolution of leaf defences
- Leaf defences vary widely among tree species, affecting rates of herbivory, survival and reproduction.
- Two contrasting hypotheses account for variation in leaf defences among species. The first predicts that a slow life history, which is characteristic of larger seeded species adapted to resource‐limited environments, is associated with well‐defended leaves. The second, apparency theory, predicts that elevated leaf defences are necessitated for species that are more detectable to herbivores.
- Here we use comparative methods and a global data set to test (i) the relationship between seed size and leaf defences and (ii) the relationship between clumping (spatial apparency) and leaf defences.
- We found that seed size was positively related to leaf fracture toughness, but not phenolics or tannin concentration and that spatial aggregation was unrelated to leaf defences.
- Synthesis. Our results suggest that larger seed size and increased leaf toughness are correlated as part of a trait syndrome associated with a slow, resource‐limited life history, not clumped dispersion and increased spatial apparency.
Journal:Journal of Ecology