Plant tolerance to natural enemy damage is a defense strategy that minimizes the effects of damage on fitness. Despite the apparent benefits of tolerance, many populations exhibit intermediate levels of tolerance, indicating that constraints on the evolution of tolerance are likely. In a field experiment with the ivyleaf morning glory, costs of tolerance to deer herbivory in the form of negative genetic correlations between deer tolerance and fitness in the absence of damage were detected. However, these costs were detected only in the presence of insect herbivores. Such environmental dependency in the expression of costs of tolerance may facilitate the maintenance of tolerance at intermediate levels.
Corresponding Editor: K. Ross