Although herbivory can affect plant fitness, few studies have investigated the effects of herbivory on the fitness of plants that reproduce vegetatively via fragmentation. Plants that reproduce in this manner are common in tropical wet forest understories, where they are subject to damage from falling branches and other debris. For these species, the ability to reproduce via fragmentation may be affected by the extent of herbivory. In this study, we determined the effects of natural and artificial herbivory on plant fragments. The leaves of four tropical understory plant species were either damaged artificially or chosen based on the extent of existing damage. Effects of real and artificial herbivory ranged from strong to no effects depending on the plant species and biotic conditions. Insect-damaged fragments showed stronger effects than artificially damaged fragments. Herbivory may be an important predictor of mortality in reproductive fragments of understory plants.
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