- 1The series of steps used to regulate a plant's investment in reproduction in response to environmental stresses is a life-history strategy critical to maximizing fitness. We investigated how the andromonoecious herb Solanum carolinense regulates its maternal investment in response to stress from foliar and floral herbivory.
- 2Most of the variation among S. carolinense individuals (ramets) in maternal investment occurred during the initiation of flower-bud primordia, with ramets initiating between 9 and 167 flower buds.
- 3In response to simulated floral herbivory, S. carolinense regulated maternal investment by decreasing the abortion rate of flower buds, increasing the ratio of perfect to male flowers and decreasing the rate of fruit abortion.
- 4In response to foliar herbivory, the plants increased the rate of fruit abortion and decreased allocation to perennial root growth.
- 5Some individuals specialized at regulating during early phenological stages, others specialized at later regulation, and there appeared to be trade-offs between these strategies.
- 6Because most plants must cope with multiple stresses that occur at different times in their phenology, such trade-offs suggest the presence of adaptive constraints. In particular, a plant's ability to tolerate damage by one species of herbivore may be constrained by the cost of lower tolerance of the damage caused by the other herbivores that feed on the plant.