The response of numbers of bramble prickles to herbivory and depressed resource availability

D. R. Bazely, J. H. Myers, K. Burke Da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Investigated the variation in prickliness of Rubus fruticosus in relation to browsing intensity by fallow deer Dama dama and muntjac deer Muntiacus reevesi in an Oxfordshire wood. On average, 63% of the leaves of stands of bramble plants in the shaded understorey were browsed by deer while in open, unshaded areas 16% of leaves were browsed. Number of prickles cm-1 was greater on shaded plants. In both open and shaded areas browsing was more intense on the periphery than in the centre of stands, but stands of bramble in shaded areas were more accessible. Removing leaves of bramble plants increased the number of prickles cm-1 and also the number of prickles internode-1. Fertilisation decreased the number of prickles cm-1 but light regime had no significant effect. The investment in prickles measured as percent cane dry weight did not differ with light regime or browsing treatment and was c4%, suggesting that prickles do not represent a significant cost to bramble plants. The increased prickliness of plants growing in the understorey of Wytham Wood is best interpreted as a response to increased browsing intensity rather than to shade. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


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