Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (2.2 MB)

Title: Plant toxicity, adaptive herbivory, and plant community dynamics

Author: Feng, Zhilan; Liu, Rongsong; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Bryant, John P.; Kielland, Knut; Chapin, F. Stuart III; Swihart, Robert K.;

Date: 2009

Source: Ecosystems. 12: 534-547

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We model effects of interspecific plant competition, herbivory, and a plant's toxic defenses against herbivores on vegetation dynamics. The model predicts that, when a generalist herbivore feeds in the absence of plant toxins, adaptive foraging generally increases the probability of coexistence of plant species populations, because the herbivore switches more of its effort to whichever plant species is more common and accessible. In contrast, toxin-determined selective herbivory can drive plant succession toward dominance by the more toxic species, as previously documented in boreal forests and prairies. When the toxin concentrations in different plant species are similar, but species have different toxins with nonadditive effects, herbivores tend to diversify foraging efforts to avoid high intakes of any one toxin. This diversification leads the herbivore to focus more feeding on the less common plant species. Thus, uncommon plants may experience depensatory mortality from herbivory, reducing local species diversity. The depensatory effect of herbivory may inhibit the invasion of other plant species that are more palatable or have different toxins. These predictions were tested and confirmed in the Alaskan boreal forest.

Keywords: functional response, plant competition, herbivory, plant toxin, adaptive foraging, mammalian herbivores, boreal forest

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Feng, Zhilan; Liu, Rongsong; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Bryant, John P.; Kielland, Knut; Chapin, F. Stuart, III; Swihart, Robert K. 2009. Plant toxicity, adaptive herbivory, and plant community dynamics. Ecosystems. 12: 534-547.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.