Effect of plant density and light availability on leaf damage in Manilkara bidentata (Sapotaceae)

TitleEffect of plant density and light availability on leaf damage in Manilkara bidentata (Sapotaceae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsAngulo-Sandoval, P, Aide, TM
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Accession NumberLUQ.14
KeywordsPuerto Rico

Variation in herbivory is often associated with plant density and light environment. The effect of these variables was studied on leaf production and herbivory of Manilkara bidentata in Puerto Rico. The major herbivore of M. bidentata is the leaf miner Acrocercops sp. To determine the effect of plant density, twenty-four 20-m × 20-m plots were established and the densities of saplings, juveniles and adults were determined. Leaf production, herbivory and growth were measured on saplings. Plant density was determined in eight 20-m × 20-m plots surrounding the focal plots. The effect of light was determined by comparing leaf phenology, leaf quality and herbivory in vertical and horizontal profiles. Sapling density in 60-m × 60-m plots was associated with herbivory. In the vertical profile, leaf production was continuous only for the canopy: herbivory increased from the canopy (1.3%) towards the understorey (35.6%). In the horizontal profile leaf production was related to light. Saplings in low light environments had narrow peaks in leaf production compared with saplings in high light environments. Differences in leaf phenology did not result in differences in herbivory possibly because of variation in herbivory among leaves. Although many saplings lost more than 80% of new leaf area, there was no detectable effect on growth. High levels of intra-specific variation in herbivory suggest that to better understand plant/herbivore interactions it is necessary to consider all size classes in a population. It is also important to document these pattern across different spatial scales.