Tolerance to herbivory (the ability of a plant to incur herbivore damage without a corresponding reduction in fitness) can be measured using either naturally occurring or imposed herbivore damage. After briefly reviewing some of the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, we present calculations describing the degree to which estimates of tolerance will be biased by environmental variables that affect both herbivory and fitness. With naturally occurring herbivory the presence of environmental variables that are correlated with herbivory and fitness will result in biased estimates of tolerance. In contrast, estimates obtained from experiments in which herbivory is artificially imposed will be unbiased; however, under a wide range of parameter values these estimates will be less precise than estimates obtained from experiments in which herbivory is not manipulated.
Corresponding Editor: J. Conner