The hypothesis that herbivory by Diaprepes root weevil larvae reduces leaf gas exchange and biomass was tested on buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus L.), Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora L.), mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni Jacq.), and pond apple (Annona glabra L). For Surinam cherry, net CO2 assimilation, transpiration, and stomatal conductance, but not internal CO2 concentration (collectively referred to as leaf gas exchange values), were 7–32% higher in noninfested than infested plants. For buttonwood, all four gas exchange values were 10–54% higher for noninfested than infested plants 3 h after infestation with large, seventh-instar larvae. However, by 4 wk after this infestation, net CO2 assimilation, transpiration, and stomatal conductance, but not internal CO2 concentration, were 11–37% higher for infested than for noninfested plants. For mahogany and pond apple, there were few or no significant differences in leaf gas exchange values between infested and noninfested plants. For all species, mean shoot and root fresh and dry weights were higher for noninfested than infested plants, with the differences most significant for buttonwood (37–85% higher), followed by Surinam cherry (37–143% higher), mahogany (49–84% higher), and pond apple (24–46% higher), which had no significant differences. There were significant differences among plant species in mean head capsule widths, thus larval instars, of larvae recovered from soil with the largest larvae from Surinam cherry (2.59 ± 0.19 mm) and the smallest from mahogany (2.29 ± 0.06 mm). Based on differences in leaf gas exchange and plant biomass between infested and noninfested plants of the four species tested, buttonwood and Surinam cherry are the most vulnerable to feeding by Diaprepes larvae followed by mahogany then pond apple.
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