Classification of hypotheses on the evolution of autumn colours

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

I review the hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the adaptive value of autumn leaf colours. The available adaptive hypotheses can be reduced to the following. Photoprotection: pigments protect against photoinhibition or photooxidation allowing a more efficient recovery of nutrients. Drought resistance: pigments decrease osmotic potential allowing leaves to tolerate water stress. Leaf warming: pigments convert light into heat and warm leaves. Fruit flag: colour attracts animals that help disperse seeds. Coevolution: colour signals that the tree is not a suitable host for insects. Camouflage: colour makes leaves less detectable to herbivores. Anticamouflage: colour enhances conspicuousness of parasites dwelling on leaves to predators or parasitoids. Unpalatability: pigments act as direct anti-feedants against herbivores. Reduced nutrient loss: yellow leaves have less to lose against herbivory. Tritrophic mutualism: colour attracts aphids which attract ants that defend the trees from other insects. For each hypothesis I mention the original references, I define assumptions and predictions, and I discuss briefly conceptual problems and available evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-333
Number of pages6
JournalOikos
Volume118
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

Fingerprint

autumn
taxonomy
color
pigment
leaves
pigments
herbivores
herbivore
insect
photoprotection
antifeedant
drought resistance
insects
photooxidation
photoinhibition
mutualism
nutrient loss
photostability
nutrients
coevolution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

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abstract = "I review the hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the adaptive value of autumn leaf colours. The available adaptive hypotheses can be reduced to the following. Photoprotection: pigments protect against photoinhibition or photooxidation allowing a more efficient recovery of nutrients. Drought resistance: pigments decrease osmotic potential allowing leaves to tolerate water stress. Leaf warming: pigments convert light into heat and warm leaves. Fruit flag: colour attracts animals that help disperse seeds. Coevolution: colour signals that the tree is not a suitable host for insects. Camouflage: colour makes leaves less detectable to herbivores. Anticamouflage: colour enhances conspicuousness of parasites dwelling on leaves to predators or parasitoids. Unpalatability: pigments act as direct anti-feedants against herbivores. Reduced nutrient loss: yellow leaves have less to lose against herbivory. Tritrophic mutualism: colour attracts aphids which attract ants that defend the trees from other insects. For each hypothesis I mention the original references, I define assumptions and predictions, and I discuss briefly conceptual problems and available evidence.",
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Classification of hypotheses on the evolution of autumn colours. / Archetti, Marco.

In: Oikos, Vol. 118, No. 3, 01.03.2009, p. 328-333.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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