1 January 2010 Pattern and Consequences of Floral Herbivory in Four Sympatric Ipomoea Species
Dexter R. Sowell, Lorne M. Wolfe
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Flowers are expected to be under strong selection pressure to be attractive to pollinators. Yet, floral traits that serve in pollinator attraction may inadvertently attract animals that consume flowers. We expected animals to utilize floral cues in targeting plants to attack so for three field seasons we examined florivory in four sympatric Ipomoea species that differed in their pollination syndrome (flower color and shape) as well as their geographic origin (native vs. introduced). Most of the damage to Ipomoea flowers was caused by larval Spodoptera spp. that consumed all or parts of the corolla, pistil and stamens. There was no overall difference in damage levels to flowers of the bee or hummingbird-pollinated plants. However, florivores exhibited a strong preference for the native, bumble bee-pollinated I. cordatotriloba relative to the remaining three non-native Ipomoea species. The non-native, hummingbird-pollinated I. hederifolia and I. quamoclit consistently experienced the lowest florivory rates. There were reproductive consequences to florivory as damaged flowers had reduced fruit set. Seed set was not influenced by corolla damage, but was reduced when flowers suffered damage to reproductive organs. The results of our study suggest that flower-eating insects are not focusing in on traits associated with different pollination syndromes, but are preferentially visiting the native Ipomoea species, and this may contribute to the successful invasion of introduced Ipomoea plants that suffer reduced damage levels.

Dexter R. Sowell and Lorne M. Wolfe "Pattern and Consequences of Floral Herbivory in Four Sympatric Ipomoea Species," The American Midland Naturalist 163(1), 173-185, (1 January 2010). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-163.1.173
Received: 7 July 2008; Accepted: 1 January 2009; Published: 1 January 2010
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