Vegetative and reproductive tree phenology of ecological groups in a tropical dry forest in central Veracruz, Mexico
Background Tree phenology has been related to abiotic and biotic factors that trigger and regulate phenological patterns.
Question We investigated whether tree species classified into ecological groups of species of successional status (late-, early-successional tree species) and seed dispersal mode (anemochory, autochory, zoochory) would display different phenological patterns.
Study site and dates A tropical dry forest in eastern Mexico; November 2007 to September 2010.
Methods We monthly recorded leaf fall, leafing, flowering, and fruiting in 165 trees belonging to 16 species tagged along a trail inside a forest fragment (21 ha). Monthly precipitation and temperatures data were obtained from the nearest meteorological station. Phenological periodicity was analyzed using circular statistics.
Results Leaf fall occurred during the dry season and leafing at the beginning of the rainy season. Flowering at community level was not significantly cyclic because of differences within groups: late-successional and zoochorous species displayed a flowering peak during the rainy season, whereas the early-successional, anemochorous and autochorous species do during the dry season. Fruiting occurred over an extended period but showed a cyclic pattern: Late successional and zoochorous species fruited at the beginning of the dry season, whereas early-successional and autochorous species tend to displayed a peak of fruiting at mid-dry season and the anemochorous at the end of the dry season.
Conclusions. Vegetative phenological patterns were similar at the levels studied and were clearly related to climatic variables. However, the phenological patterns of reproduction differed within tree ecological groups and were not consistently correlated with precipitation or temperature.
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