Effects of Festuca paniculata on the compensatory growth response of Centaurea uniflora in the French Alps

Beth A. Newingham, Gregoire Boquien, Philippe Choler, Ragan M. Callaway

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6 Scopus citations


The independent effects of herbivores and neighbors on plants are generally negative, and therefore the combined effects of these interactions are generally assumed to have additive or multiplicative negative effects on plant growth. However, because herbivores can stimulate the growth of plants (compensation). and neighbors can facilitate each other, the combined effects of herbivory and plant-plant interactions can be highly variable and poorly predicted by current competition and plant-herbivore theory. In some cases in North America, Festuca species appear to facilitate invasive Centaurea species and enhance their compensatory responses in controlled greenhouse conditions. We explored the interactions between herbivory and neighbor effects in the French Alps by testing the effect of the neighbor, Festuca paniculata L., on the compensatory growth response of defoliated Centaurea uniflora L. over two growing seasons. Seventy percent of aboveground C. uniflora biomass was clipped at each of seven times throughout two growing seasons in the presence or absence of F. paniculata. Centaurea uniflora compensated for severe damage in the first year, but was negatively affected by defoliation in the second year. Defoliating C. uniflora reduced final aboveground biomass by 44% and flower number by 64%, but did not affect survival. Unlike observations for other Centaurea and Festuca species, F. paniculata had significant competitive effects on C. uniflora. Festuca paniculata neither enhanced compensatory responses of C. uniflora nor increased the negative effects of defoliation. Our results show that compensatory responses can weaken over time, but that neighboring plants do not necessarily increase the negative effects of defoliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Compensation
  • Competition
  • Defoliation
  • Herbivory
  • Subalpine


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