Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (10): 1036-1048.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0001

Special Issue: 生态系统结构与功能

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progresses of plant-herbivore interactions

ZHONG Zhi-Wei1,2, LI Xiao-Fei3, WANG De-Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1School of Environment/School of Life Science, Institute of Grassland Science, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130117, China
    2Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, the Ministry of Education, Jilin Key Laboratory of Ecological Restoration and Ecosystem Management, Changchun 130024, China
    3College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Jilin Agricultural University, Key Laboratory of Sustainable Utilization of Soil Resources in the Commodity Grain Bases in Jilin Province/Key Laboratory of Straw Biology and Utilization, the Ministry of Education, Changchun 130118, China
  • Received:2020-01-02 Accepted:2020-04-22 Online:2021-10-20 Published:2020-06-12
  • Contact: WANG De-Li
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32061143027);National Natural Science Foundation of China(32001384);Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(2412020FZ019)


Plant-herbivore interaction is one of the most common and important interspecific relationships in nature, which is the core and foundation of the food web theory. In this paper, we review the effects of herbivores on the characteristics of plant individuals, populations and communities, as well as the defense strategies and mechanisms of plants against herbivores at the levels of individuals, populations and communities. Herbivory can significantly change the growth, reproduction and survival rates of plant individuals and populations, which can in turn affect the composition and diversity of plant communities. In order to defend against herbivory, plants have evolved a series of defense mechanisms at the individual, population and community levels. At the individual and population levels, plants avoid herbivory mainly by chemical and physical defense. At the community level, however, plant defenses are achieved mainly by their influences on the behaviors of herbivores. This paper then introduces and compares important hypotheses and theories in related fields. Finally, we point out major existing research issues and identify possible future research directions. Given that natural systems are experiencing strong disturbances from human activities and climate changes, exploring how these disturbances affect plant-animal interactions, and how these changes in plant-animal interactions feedback on the structure, function and stability of the ecosystems, will not only have important theoretical significance, but also help us to formulate successful ecosystem management policy in the future.

Key words: herbivore, plant-herbivore interaction, plant diversity, plant defense