The interaction between simulated cotyledon herbivory and interspecific competition was studied in a greenhouse experiment using two species of trees, Acer rubrum and Quercus palustris, which commonly invade abandoned agricultural fields. Herbivory treatments were applied as a gradient of cotyledon removal for A. rubrum with 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of cotyledon tissue removed. Cotyledons from Q. palustris were clipped and removed (control, early, and late removal) to create a gradient of seed reserve availability. The competition treatment consisted of plugs of old-field vegetation that filled the pots with perennial cover. Mortality of seedlings was higher with competition. There was a significant interaction between herbivory and competition with the highest mortality occurring with competition at the highest intensity of herbivory in both species. Herbivory reduced biomass for Q. palustris only, while competition reduced biomass in both species. Neither species showed an interaction between herbivory and competition for growth. There was a significant interaction between herbivory and competition on allocation patterns for both species, with greater allocation to roots with competition at the highest intensity of herbivory. This study demonstrates the potential for cotyledon herbivory and competition to interact, altering the invasion of tree seedlings into abandoned agricultural land.
Meiners, Scott J. and Handel, Steven N., "ADDITIVE AND NONADDITIVE EFFECTS OF HERBIVORY AND COMPETITION ON TREE SEEDLING MORTALITY, GROWTH, AND ALLOCATION" (2000). Faculty Research & Creative Activity. Paper 94.