This study examined the interactive effects of early and late season herbivory on the growth and reproductive output of figwort (Scrophularia nodosa). The early season herbivore is a pentatomid bug that feeds on and kills the apical meristem, while the late season herbivores are 2 weevil species and a sawfly that all feed on leaves and flowers. The direct effect of early season meristem damage on plant reproduction was quite limited, although meristem damage did cause increased branching. This change in plant morphology may entail that early season herbivores have profound indirect effects on plant reproduction by affecting the abundance of and damage caused by late season herbivores. Comparisons of plants with and without early season meristem damage, natural and artificial, also suggest that plants with meristem damage are significantly shorter throughout most of the summer and receive less damage late in season. However, the reduced damage translated to increased flowering but not to increased fruit production, suggesting that the plants were able to compensate for late season damage. In the end, and despite damage, figwort was well able to tolerate the observed meristem and leaf damage.
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Vol. 18 • No. 4