Herbivory and Light
In Chapter 5, the light climate within the rainforest was assessed within the vicinity of a leaf-cutting ant colony. These measurements highlighted the enormously variable light conditions both vertically through the canopy and near the forest floor. Since the cutting of leaves by ants affects canopy structure and subsequent light penetration (Plates 12, 13), the significance of this foliage removal to the light climate and primary production of the canopy becomes an interesting issue. As mentioned earlier, light availability may limit growth and survival of many plant species by limiting photosynthesis, and heterogeneity in the light environment may be an important functional attribute of the rainforest ecosystem. This chapter focuses on the measurable consequences of leaf harvesting by ants on the canopy light climate and potential primary production.
KeywordsPhotosynthesis Rate Compensatory Growth Light Extinction Light Climate Canopy Photosynthesis
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