Ecology of a leaf color polymorphism in a tropical forest species: habitat segregation and herbivory
Byttneria aculeata (Sterculiaceae), a subcanopy liane with a shrubby juvenile form has two distinct leaf color morphs in juvenile plants- a given juvenile has plain green leaves or leaves with whitish variegation. Both forms occur together in the forest and in clearings; however, the variegated morph is more common in open sites, and the plain morph predominates in the forest. Percent variegation per leaf for variegated plants increased from closed to open sites. Measurements of growth support the idea that variegation is favored in open habitats. Within a given habitat, rate of herbivory by leaf miners on a given morph increases with increasing relative frequency of that morph; however, at a given relative frequency, the variegated morph is less heavily attacked than is the plain morph when it occurs elsewhere at that same frequency.
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