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Ellison Abstract- 1993 Farnsworth and Ellison (Dynamics)

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Farnsworth, E. J., and A. M. Ellison. 1993. Dynamics of herbivory in Belizean mangal. Journal of Tropical Ecology 9: 435-453.


We report long-term observations on leaf herbivory in the mangroves Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans, on the Placencia Peninsula of Belize. We labelled and traced leaves and recorded the amount of damage appearing over a period of 310 days. Herbivores had damaged 1-4% of total mean leaf area within the first 10 days, but damage rates levelled off thereafter, to a final total of 4-10% damage. Herbivores did not concentrate on leaves of younger age classes. Rhizophora mangle growing in the high tidal zone (HHW) exhibited the highest initial and total attack rates at all but the final sampling dates. We also documented the dynamics of injury expansion and necrosis following artificial injury to seedling and tree leaves. Artificial holes in leaves were associated with higher subsequent rates of herbivory that varied among leaf age classes, and particular damage types were more prevalent in previously injured leaves. Artificial holes expanded significantly more in young leaves of both species. Holes in young leaves of both species expanded by up to 45.1% in area over 50 days, consistent with a similar study in Australia. Substantial necrotic areas developed around the injury site; a secondary effect of damage not often considered in herbivory studies. We discuss the implications of hole expansion and necrosis in estimating error in herbivory measurements. Temporally dynamic studies of herbivory are especially needed in tropical systems that show non-deciduous phenologies and long-lived leaves.

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