Effects of simulated herbivory and resources on Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum, Euphorbiaceae) invasion of native coastal prairie. Academic Article uri icon


  • Trade-offs associated with maintaining herbivory resistance and herbivory tolerance are frequently inferred in plant life histories. Invasive success for many non-native plants is often attributed to novel resistance that repels native herbivores. Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum, Euphorbiaceae) is a non-native invader that threatens ecosystems throughout the southeastern United States, including imperiled coastal prairie regions. Low herbivore loads due to costly resistance are generally assumed to give Sapium a competitive advantage over native plants. We predicted that if Sapium experienced higher damage levels it would show significant decreases in growth and reduced ability to compete with native prairie vegetation. We conducted full-factorial, paired greenhouse and field experiments designed to assess the effects of simulated leaf herbivory on Sapium growth in the presence of prairie vegetation at different levels of light and nitrogen. Contrary to our expectations, neither low-intensity, chronic defoliation nor high-intensity, acute defoliation negatively affected Sapium seedlings in any resource combination in either experiment. These studies reveal that Sapium possesses considerable phenotypic plasticity, and herbivory tolerance is a newly appreciated trait that likely contributes to its invasive potential.

published proceedings

  • Am J Bot

author list (cited authors)

  • Rogers, W. E., & Siemann, E.

citation count

  • 36

complete list of authors

  • Rogers, William E||Siemann, Evan

publication date

  • February 2003