We have a new paper in Ecology Letters, led by Dan Metcalfe, examining the variation in leaf herbivory along our 3000 m elevation transect in the Peruvian Amazon-Andes. This involved scanning a subset of the leaves that our field teams have been regularly collecting along the transect, and painstakingly working out what fraction of the leaves had been consumed. We found that herbivory was strongly influenced by temperature (higher temperature = more herbivory) and secondarily by leaf phosphorus content. As we have a full description of the carbon cycle of these forests, we were able to calculate what contribution herbivory makes to the whole carbon cycle of the forest, the first time this has been done for tropical forests.
The paper can be downloaded here.
Metcalfe, D. B., Asner, G. P., Martin, R. E., Silva Espejo, J. E., Huasco, W. H., Farfán Amézquita, F. F., Carranza-Jimenez, L., Galiano Cabrera, D. F., Baca, L. D., Sinca, F., Huaraca Quispe, L. P., Taype, I. A., Mora, L. E., Dávila, A. R., Solórzano, M. M., Puma Vilca, B. L., Laupa Román, J. M., Guerra Bustios, P. C., Revilla, N. S., Tupayachi, R., Girardin, C. A. J., Doughty, C. E., Malhi, Y. (2013), Herbivory makes major contributions to ecosystem carbon and nutrient cycling in tropical forests. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12233. Supporting Information.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University