Instructor:  Dr Dylan Parry

109 Illick Hall

Phone 470-6753



Office Hours:  Monday 10:30-12:00, Tuesday, 9:30-11:30  or e-mail or talk to me before / after class for appt.


Class Times: Tues/Thur 12:30-1:50 (334 Illick Hall)


Books: None required. There is no recent textbook that encompasses plant-herbivore interactions holistically. I will provide links to synthesis articles that provide detail on some of the topics covered in class.   These can be found at the link below.

Link to lecture sequence and readings:


Prerequisites: I assume that all students have solid grounding in fundamental ecological and evolutionary principles (i.e., EFB-311, EFB-320 or similar content courses at other institutions)


The course focuses on the ecological and evolutionary nature of interactions between plants and the herbivores that feed on them.  I will use examples from many different systems involving both invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores although a majority of the available literature focuses on insects primarily because insects and the plants they on which they feed dominate the Earth’s biodiversity.


Overview of Major Topics


1.   Introduction and overview of the nature of plant-herbivore interactions

2.   The nature of interactions

a.   Impact of herbivores on plant-fitness

b.   Impact of plants on herbivore fitness            

3.   Plant traits that influence utilization by herbivores

a.   Plant defenses – constitutive / induced

b.   Plant defenses

                                              i.     Physical / Mechanical

                                            ii.     Chemical                                              

4.   Herbivore traits that optimize utilization of plants

a.   Specialization

b.   Morphological and physiological

c.    Behavioral and ecological

5.   Complex trophic interactions (plants-herbivores-predators/pathogens)  

6.   Coevolution (antagonistic and mutualistic)

7.   Community and population ecology and plant-herbivore interactions

8.   Invasive species and novel plant-herbivore interactions

9.   Applied plant defenses – botanical pesticides and transgenic plants

10.                 Plant-herbivore interactions and global anthropogenic disturbance (climate, biogeochemical cycles, land-use, etc.).



Format:  The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion of critical ideas in the field. I try to make it as interactive as possible and strike a balance between lecture and discussion.  I will introduce a major topic with an overview lecture.  In a subsequent class, we will discuss a paper or paper from the scientific literature relevant to that topic. I will generally provide some questions for you to answer along with each paper. Discussions will usually be 30-40 minutes in length. Each of you (in pairs) will take a turn leading and moderating the discussion on one of the papers during the semester.


Š      You will be evaluated on both your contributions to discussions and in the role of discussion leader.  See handout on the role of discussion leader (Leading a discussion).

Š      I will ask you to provide written answers to questions on the papers we read – these are due at the beginning of the class in which the paper is discussed.


Attendance Policy:  I will take attendance each day.  Unexplained absences will count against your participation grade.


Notes:  I do not make my full Powerpoint lectures available. I will post a summary of each lecture highlighting major points.




Discussion Paper Questions                            30% (10 at 3% each)

Quizzes:                                                                    45% (3 at 15% each)

Discussion Leaders                                                   15%                   

Participation                                                            10%

Total                                                                         100%