Floral herbivory at different stages of flower development changes reproduction in Iris gracilipes (Iridaceae)

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Abstract

Floral herbivores and pollinators are major determinants of plant reproduction. Because interaction of floral herbivores and pollinators occurs when herbivores attack the flowers in the bud and flower stages and because the compensatory ability of plants is known to differ according to the timing of herbivory, the effects of herbivory may differ according to its timing. In this study, we investigated the effects of floral herbivory at different stages on fruit production and seed/ovule ratio at two sites of large populations of the perennial herb, Iris gracilipes for 2 years. Herbivory at the bud and fruit stages both tended to have negative effects on fruit production, but the former caused more severe damage. On the other hand, herbivory at the flower stage tended not to have negative effects on fruit production because the degree of flower loss was smaller in the flower stage. Although herbivory decreased fruit production, flowers did not compensate for the damage by increasing the seed/ovule ratio because reproduction of I. gracilipes was limited by pollen availability rather than resources. These results indicate that floral herbivory at different stages has different effects on plant reproduction.

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