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Acta Botanica Brasilica

Print version ISSN 0102-3306On-line version ISSN 1677-941X


PAIS, Mara Patrícia  and  VARANDA, Elenice Mouro. Variation in plant defenses of Didymopanax vinosum (Cham. & Schltdl.) Seem. (Apiaceae) across a vegetation gradient in a Brazilian cerrado. Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2003, vol.17, n.3, pp.395-403. ISSN 1677-941X.

Cerrado vegetation is composed of a mosaic of vegetation types, from campo sujo, dominated by herbs; campo cerrado and cerrado sensu stricto, with shrubby vegetation; to cerradão, with trees forming a denser forest. This physiognomic mosaic is related to differences in the water availability in the soil. Cerrado plants are considered physically and chemically well defended against herbivores, but there are no studies showing how plants allocate investment to various types of defensive mechanisms in different habitat physiognomies. The defensive mechanisms and the nutritional traits of a cerrado plant, Didymopanax vinosum (Cham. & Schltdl.) Seem. (Apiaceae), were compared along a vegetation gradient. Toughness, as well as water, nitrogen, cellulose, lignin, and tannin contents were measured in young and mature leaves of D. vinosum collected in campo cerrado, cerrado sensu stricto (s.s.) and cerradão. Plants from cerrado s.s. and cerradão were of better nutritional quality but also had higher tannin contents than campo cerrado plants. Some type of compensation mechanism could have been selected to provide an optimum investment in defense, according to limitations imposed by water deficits in the habitat.

Keywords : cerrado; plant defenses; tannins; vegetation gradient; water stress.

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