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Leaf herbivory and nutrients increase nectar alkaloids


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Correlations between traits may constrain ecological and evolutionary responses to multispecies interactions. Many plants produce defensive compounds in nectar and leaves that could influence interactions with pollinators and herbivores, but the relationship between nectar and leaf defences is entirely unexplored. Correlations between leaf and nectar traits may be mediated by resources and prior damage. We determined the effect of nutrients and leaf herbivory by Manduca sexta on Nicotiana tabacum nectar and leaf alkaloids, floral traits and moth oviposition. We found a positive phenotypic correlation between nectar and leaf alkaloids. Herbivory induced alkaloids in nectar but not in leaves, while nutrients increased alkaloids in both tissues. Moths laid the most eggs on damaged, fertilized plants, suggesting a preference for high alkaloids. Induced nectar alkaloids via leaf herbivory indicate that species interactions involving leaf and floral tissues are linked and should not be treated as independent phenomena in plant ecology or evolution.