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Putting plant resistance traits on the map: A test of the idea that plants are better defended at lower latitudes

TitlePutting plant resistance traits on the map: A test of the idea that plants are better defended at lower latitudes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMoles, AT, Wallis, IR, Foley, WJ, Warton, DI, Stegen, J, Bisigato, AJ, Cella-Pizarro, L, Clark, CJ, Cohen, PS, Cornwell, WK, Edwards, W, Ejrnaes, R, Gonzales-Ojeda, T, Graae, BJ, Hay, G, Lumbwe, FC, Magana-Rodriquez, B, Moore, BD, Peri, PL, Poulsen, JR, Veldtman, R, von Zeipel, H, Andrew, NR, Boulter, SL, Borer, ET, Campon, FFernandez, Coll, M, Farji-Brener, AG, De Gabriel, J, Jurado, E, Kyhn, LA, Low, B, Mulder, CPH, Reardon-Smith, K, Rodriquez-Velazquez, J, Seabloom, EW, Vesk, PA, van Cauter, A, Waldram, MS, Zheng, Z, Belndinger, PG, Enquist, BJ, Facelli, JM, Knight, T, Majer, JD, Martinez-Ramos, M, McQuillan, P, Prior, LD
JournalNew Phytologist

• It has long been believed that plant species from the tropics have higher levels oftraits associated with resistance to herbivores than do species from higher latitudes.A meta-analysis recently showed that the published literature does notsupport this theory. However, the idea has never been tested using data gatheredwith consistent methods from a wide range of latitudes.• We quantified the relationship between latitude and a broad range of chemicaland physical traits across 301 species from 75 sites world-wide.• Six putative resistance traits, including tannins, the concentration of lipids (anindicator of oils, waxes and resins), and leaf toughness were greater in highlatitudespecies. Six traits, including cyanide production and the presence of spines,were unrelated to latitude. Only ash content (an indicator of inorganic substancessuch as calcium oxalates and phytoliths) and the properties of species with delayedgreening were higher in the tropics.• Our results do not support the hypothesis that tropical plants have higher levelsof resistance traits than do plants from higher latitudes. If anything, plants havehigher resistance toward the poles. The greater resistance traits of high-latitudespecies might be explained by the greater cost of losing a given amount of leaftissue in low-productivity environments.

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