Gas exchange of Idaho fescue in response to defoliation and grazing history

Doescher, P. S., T. J. Svejcar, R. G. Jaindl
Publication Year: 
Doescher et al. measured the effects of simulated herbivory on photosynthesis, water conductance, xylem potential and carbon isotope ratios of Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) plants, removed from grazed or ungrazed pastures. All plants exposed to simulated herbivory during the study had greater photosynthesis and water conductance, which allowed plants to compensate for loss of photosynthetic area. Plants from grazed pastures had greater water conductance and carbon isotope ratios than plants taken from non-grazed pastures, indicating that plants with a history of grazing used water less efficiently. These authors concluded that previous grazing does affect plant response to future herbivory and speculated that the reduced water use efficiency of plants defoliated prior to and during the study may be a compensatory mechanism of grazed plants, although this theory would require further study.
Montana State University

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