The effects of grazers on the performance of individuals and populations of scarlet gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata

Joy Bergelson, Michael J. Crawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I. aggregata exhibits considerable powers of regrowth following removal of its primary shoot by herbivores, but we found no evidence of overcompensation (i.e. of significantly higher plant performance where plants were exposed to ungulate herbivory) in a comparison between individuals on grazed and ungrazed sides of exclosure fences, in a comparison between artificially clipped and control plants in one population in the Okanagan National Forest, or in comparisons between grazed and ungrazed plants in 14 natural populations. We tested whether ungulate grazing affects the population size of Ipomopsis aggregata by comparing populations inside and outside deer exclosures at 7 sites in the Western United States. We found consistent, highly significant differences in plant population density on the grazed and ungrazed sides of these exlosure fences. Plant density was a modal 25-fold higher on the protected side of the fence, suggesting that exposure to ungulate grazing increases plant death rates at some stage in the life cycle. Our results show that the presence of ungulate grazers leads to a substantial decrease in plant density despite the fact that grazing on young bolting shoots has very little influence on fruit production. Since this decrease in population density is not correlated with a decrease in the fecundity of individuals, it must instead be due to other direct and indirect effects of ungulate grazers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-444
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • Herbivory
  • Ipomopsis aggregate
  • Overcompensation
  • Regworth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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