Herbivory

Herbivory can strongly reduce plant biomass eventually affecting plant performance in different ways (e.g., enhancing plant growth, reducing the reproductive output, etc.) (Figure 8) and virtually all phases of life cycle of plants. The impact of herbivore damage on plant population dynamics depends on several factors, such as the kind of

Figure 8 Shrubs grazed by domestic livestock in the Montseny Natural Park (NE Spain). The effects of herbivory are usually considered of low intensity, but herbivores can strongly modulate plant communities in many regions of the world. Photograph courtesy of Eduard Pla.

herbivore (e.g., insects or vertebrates), the effect of that herbivore on a particular life-cycle stage (e.g., flowering buds or leaves), and the importance of such stage for population dynamics (e.g., reproduction vs. growth). The response ofplants to herbivory at both the individual (e.g., affecting survival rates) and population level (e.g., affecting age and size structure) is also important to determine the effects of herbivory on population dynamics. Finally, grazing-avoidance mechanisms, based on attributes external to the plant (e.g., individual plants growing in the neighborhood of spiny shrubs that protect them against herbivory), are also common in plants.

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