Resistance and tolerance are widely viewed as two alternative adaptive responses to herbivory. However, the traits underlying resistance and tolerance remain largely unknown, as does the genetic architecture of herbivory responses and the prevalence of genetic trade-offs. To address these issues, we measured resistance and tolerance to natural apical meristem damage (AMD) by rabbits in a large field experiment with recombinant inbred lines (RILs) of Arabidopsis thaliana (developed from a cross between the Columbia × Landsberg erecta ecotypes). We also measured phenological and morphological traits hypothesized to underlie resistance and tolerance to AMD. Recombinant inbred lines differed significantly in resistance (the proportion of replicates within an RIL that resisted herbivory), and early flowering plants with tall apical inflorescences were more likely to experience damage. Tolerance (the difference in fitness between the damaged and undamaged states), also differed significantly among RILs, with some lines overcompensating for damage and producing more fruit in the damaged than undamaged state. Plastic increases in basal branch number, basal branch height, and senescence date in response to damage were all associated with greater tolerance. There was no evidence for a genetic trade-off between resistance and tolerance, an observation consistent with the underlying differences in associated morphological and phenological characters. Selection gradient analysis detected no evidence for direct selection on either resistance or tolerance in this experiment. However, a statistical model indicates that the pattern of selection on resistance depends strongly on the mean level of tolerance, and selection on tolerance depends strongly on the mean level of resistance. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that selection may act to maintain resistance and tolerance at intermediate levels in spatially or temporally varying environments or those with varying herbivore populations.
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Vol. 57 • No. 6