Ecology of Plastic Flowers.


Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, PO Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]


Plant phenotypic plasticity in response to herbivore attack includes changes in flower traits. Such herbivore-induced changes in flower traits have consequences for interactions with flower visitors. We synthesize here current knowledge on the specificity of herbivore-induced changes in flower traits, the underlying molecular mechanisms, and the ecological consequences for flower-associated communities. Herbivore-induced changes in flower traits seem to be largely herbivore species-specific. The extensive plasticity observed in flowers influences a highly connected web of interactions within the flower-associated community. We argue that the adaptive value of herbivore-induced plant responses and flower plasticity can be fully understood only from a community perspective rather than from pairwise interactions.


flower traits,flower visitors,herbivore-induced plant responses,phenotypic plasticity,plant defense,specificity,