Comparison between two methods to measure herbivory. Is herbivory in the Neotropics more severe than we thought?
The quantity of plant tissue consumed by herbivores can be recorded 1) by measuring herbivory in previously marked leaves or 2) by performing punctual measures, i.e. selecting leaves at random to measure the tissue absent in each leaf. Punctual measurements are frequently used because they are a faster method to estimate herbivory. However, punctual measures do not include totally consumed leaves, therefore they underestimate the actual herbivory rates. In three species of understory shrubs (Palicourea sp. P. angustifolia and P. ovalis: Rubiaceae) herbivory was measured using punctual measures and marking young leaves in order to determine the degree of herbivory underestimation by punctual measurements. Punctual measurements underestimated herbivory up to three times in the species with a high number of totally consumed leaves. In the species with a lower number of totally consumed leaves, herbivory rates recorded using both methods were similar. These results suggest that herbivory in neotropical forests could be more severe than what is currently suggested.
Keywords: palicourea spp, rubiaceae, herbivory, tropical montane forest, colombia