Herbivore damage along a latitudinal gradient: relative impacts of different feeding guilds

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We present the first broad-scale test for a latitudinal gradient in herbivory made with consistent methods, in similar habitat type, over the entire lifespan of leaves (phyllodes). We assessed the degree of chewing, sap-sucking and mining herbivory on Acacia falcata along its entire coastal latitudinal range (1150 km) in Australia. We found no significant differences in the rate of herbivory among latitudes. Mature phyllodes had a higher rate of herbivory compared to young phyllodes, and mining was higher on mature phyllodes from the most tropical latitude. We found significant differences in phyllode toughness and specific leaf (phyllode) area among latitudes, but no significant differences among latitudes in carbon: nitrogen. This study provides a useful model for further testing of the generalisation that herbivory is more intense in tropical versus temperate regions.

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