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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Geographic dialects in volatile communication between sagebrush individuals

  • Author(s): Karban, R
  • Wetzel, WC
  • Shiojiri, K
  • Pezzola, E
  • Blande, JD
  • et al.

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© 2016 by the Ecological Society of America. Plants respond to volatile cues emitted by damaged neighbors to increase their defenses against herbivores. We examined whether plants communicated more effectively with local neighbors than distant neighbors in a reciprocal experiment at two sites. Three branches on focal plants were incubated with air from (1) a control, (2) an experimentally clipped foreign plant from 230 km away, or (3) an experimentally clipped local plant from the same population as the focal plant. Branches incubated with air from the controls experienced 50-80%25 more leaf damage than those receiving air from experimentally clipped plants. Of more interest, branches receiving volatiles from experimentally clipped local plants received 50-65%25 of the leaf damage as those receiving volatiles from experimentally clipped foreign plants. Sabinyl compounds and related terpinenes were found to differ consistently for plants from southern and northern sites. These results indicate that cues vary geographically in their effectiveness and suggest that sagebrush responds more strongly to local than foreign dialects.

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