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The ecology and evolution of induced responses to herbivory and how plants perceive risk

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1. Plants perceive herbivore damage or increased risk and respond. These changes may increase plant fitness, although effects on fitness have often been assumed without supporting evidence. 2. Three models have been proposed to explain induced rather than constitutive defence. The optimal defence model posits that induction allow plants to reduce allocation costs; it predicts demonstrably lower costs when defences are not needed. The moving target model posits that induction increases spatial and temporal variability; it predicts that variability will be difficult for herbivores and will provide defence. The information transfer model posits that induced responses provide cues to other tissues on that individual plant and to other organisms in the community; it predicts that induced cues will provide systemic resistance, deter herbivores, and/or attract enemies of herbivores, thereby benefiting the induced plant. 3. All three models predict that cues must be reliable to be useful. In some cases, cues provide specific information about the damaged plant tissue and the herbivore and this specific information may allow plants to fine-tune responses. Recent theory posits that selection should favour plants that minimise recognition errors and reduce fitness costs associated with errors. 4. Future research should focus on exploring different modalities used by plants to perceive herbivore risk, the benefits and costs of perceiving cues and inducing resistance, and the basic natural history of these phenomena. Induced responses have great unrealised potential in agriculture, and research should focus on host plant resistance rather than attempting to involve other trophic levels.

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