Canopy height, rather than neighborhood effects, shapes leaf herbivory in a tropical rainforest
Factors shaping the interspecific variations in herbivory have puzzled ecologists for decades and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain interspecific variation in leaf herbivory. In a tropical rainforest in Yunnan Province, China, we collected 6732 leaves from 129 species with canopy heights ranging from 1.6 to 65.0 m above the ground. We tested the role of canopy height, the diversity, composition and structural heterogeneity of neighbors and leaf traits in shaping the interspecific variations in herbivory. Results show that leaf herbivory decreased with canopy height and specific leaf area (SLA) and increased with leaf size. However, neighboring species' diversity, composition, and structural heterogeneity showed no association with herbivory. Therefore, neither the visual apparency effect nor the associational resistance effect was detected in this hyperdiverse tropical rainforest. These findings highlight the importance of vertical structure in shaping herbivory patterns in natural communities.