Associations between tree growth, soil fertility and water availability at local and regional scales in Ghanaian tropical rain forest

T. R. Baker, David Francis Robert Philip Burslem, Michael David Swaine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Relating patterns of species abundance to the processes that determine them at local and regional spatial scales is one of the central aims of ecological research. To examine the relationship between distribution and growth in tropical rain forest, seasonal and annual changes in tree diameter of two tree species with contrasting distribution patterns, Celtis mildbraedii and Strombosia glaucescens, were monitored across topographic gradients in moist semi-deciduous and moist evergreen forest in Ghana over 2 years, 1997-9. Concurrent measurements were made of soil water availability, and during 1997/8, of rainfall, nutrient availability and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). The two sites received similar, low, total rainfall during 1997/8, but soil water availability in the dry season at the evergreen site exceeded that at the semi-deciduous forest site. Soil water availability was higher during 1998/9 at both sites. During 1997/8, PAR was similar at the two sites. The evergreen site had soils of lower pH, available P, Mg, Ca and K concentrations than the semi-deciduous forest site. Water availability and the sand content of the soil increased and concentrations of total N and C decreased, from summit to valley positions at both sites. Celtis mildbraedii had significantly faster growth rates than S. glaucescens, and growth of both species was greater at the semi-deciduous than the evergreen forest site during the wet year (1998/9) but not during the dry year (1997/8). Celtis mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest grew less in valley than summit and slope positions. We conclude that in the absence of a severe dry season, growth is higher in semi-deciduous than evergreen forest, and is related to the higher soil fertility in more seasonal forest. The patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that concentrations of available P and/or cations in the soil limit growth in evergreen forest, while concentrations of N in valley soils limit growth of C. mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest. There was no evidence that variation in PAR influenced growth rates in these forests. A reduction in growth rate on less fertile soils may be a factor determining the distribution limit of dry forest species, such as C. mildbraedii, in evergreen forest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003

Keywords

  • Ghana
  • nutrient limitation
  • soil water availability
  • spatial scale
  • species distribution
  • tree growth
  • NUTRIENT LIMITATION
  • PHOSPHORUS FERTILIZATION
  • DIPTEROCARP FOREST
  • DENDROMETER BANDS
  • NATIONAL-PARK
  • COSTA-RICA
  • VEGETATION
  • PHENOLOGY
  • NITROGEN
  • PATTERNS

Cite this

@article{9a9521f884a7449194d35d1c9223a99b,
title = "Associations between tree growth, soil fertility and water availability at local and regional scales in Ghanaian tropical rain forest",
abstract = "Relating patterns of species abundance to the processes that determine them at local and regional spatial scales is one of the central aims of ecological research. To examine the relationship between distribution and growth in tropical rain forest, seasonal and annual changes in tree diameter of two tree species with contrasting distribution patterns, Celtis mildbraedii and Strombosia glaucescens, were monitored across topographic gradients in moist semi-deciduous and moist evergreen forest in Ghana over 2 years, 1997-9. Concurrent measurements were made of soil water availability, and during 1997/8, of rainfall, nutrient availability and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). The two sites received similar, low, total rainfall during 1997/8, but soil water availability in the dry season at the evergreen site exceeded that at the semi-deciduous forest site. Soil water availability was higher during 1998/9 at both sites. During 1997/8, PAR was similar at the two sites. The evergreen site had soils of lower pH, available P, Mg, Ca and K concentrations than the semi-deciduous forest site. Water availability and the sand content of the soil increased and concentrations of total N and C decreased, from summit to valley positions at both sites. Celtis mildbraedii had significantly faster growth rates than S. glaucescens, and growth of both species was greater at the semi-deciduous than the evergreen forest site during the wet year (1998/9) but not during the dry year (1997/8). Celtis mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest grew less in valley than summit and slope positions. We conclude that in the absence of a severe dry season, growth is higher in semi-deciduous than evergreen forest, and is related to the higher soil fertility in more seasonal forest. The patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that concentrations of available P and/or cations in the soil limit growth in evergreen forest, while concentrations of N in valley soils limit growth of C. mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest. There was no evidence that variation in PAR influenced growth rates in these forests. A reduction in growth rate on less fertile soils may be a factor determining the distribution limit of dry forest species, such as C. mildbraedii, in evergreen forest.",
keywords = "Ghana, nutrient limitation, soil water availability, spatial scale, species distribution, tree growth, NUTRIENT LIMITATION, PHOSPHORUS FERTILIZATION, DIPTEROCARP FOREST, DENDROMETER BANDS, NATIONAL-PARK, COSTA-RICA, VEGETATION, PHENOLOGY, NITROGEN, PATTERNS",
author = "Baker, {T. R.} and Burslem, {David Francis Robert Philip} and Swaine, {Michael David}",
year = "2003",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1017/S0266467403003146",
language = "English",
volume = "19",
pages = "109--125",
journal = "Journal of Tropical Ecology",
issn = "0266-4674",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Associations between tree growth, soil fertility and water availability at local and regional scales in Ghanaian tropical rain forest

AU - Baker, T. R.

AU - Burslem, David Francis Robert Philip

AU - Swaine, Michael David

PY - 2003/2

Y1 - 2003/2

N2 - Relating patterns of species abundance to the processes that determine them at local and regional spatial scales is one of the central aims of ecological research. To examine the relationship between distribution and growth in tropical rain forest, seasonal and annual changes in tree diameter of two tree species with contrasting distribution patterns, Celtis mildbraedii and Strombosia glaucescens, were monitored across topographic gradients in moist semi-deciduous and moist evergreen forest in Ghana over 2 years, 1997-9. Concurrent measurements were made of soil water availability, and during 1997/8, of rainfall, nutrient availability and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). The two sites received similar, low, total rainfall during 1997/8, but soil water availability in the dry season at the evergreen site exceeded that at the semi-deciduous forest site. Soil water availability was higher during 1998/9 at both sites. During 1997/8, PAR was similar at the two sites. The evergreen site had soils of lower pH, available P, Mg, Ca and K concentrations than the semi-deciduous forest site. Water availability and the sand content of the soil increased and concentrations of total N and C decreased, from summit to valley positions at both sites. Celtis mildbraedii had significantly faster growth rates than S. glaucescens, and growth of both species was greater at the semi-deciduous than the evergreen forest site during the wet year (1998/9) but not during the dry year (1997/8). Celtis mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest grew less in valley than summit and slope positions. We conclude that in the absence of a severe dry season, growth is higher in semi-deciduous than evergreen forest, and is related to the higher soil fertility in more seasonal forest. The patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that concentrations of available P and/or cations in the soil limit growth in evergreen forest, while concentrations of N in valley soils limit growth of C. mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest. There was no evidence that variation in PAR influenced growth rates in these forests. A reduction in growth rate on less fertile soils may be a factor determining the distribution limit of dry forest species, such as C. mildbraedii, in evergreen forest.

AB - Relating patterns of species abundance to the processes that determine them at local and regional spatial scales is one of the central aims of ecological research. To examine the relationship between distribution and growth in tropical rain forest, seasonal and annual changes in tree diameter of two tree species with contrasting distribution patterns, Celtis mildbraedii and Strombosia glaucescens, were monitored across topographic gradients in moist semi-deciduous and moist evergreen forest in Ghana over 2 years, 1997-9. Concurrent measurements were made of soil water availability, and during 1997/8, of rainfall, nutrient availability and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). The two sites received similar, low, total rainfall during 1997/8, but soil water availability in the dry season at the evergreen site exceeded that at the semi-deciduous forest site. Soil water availability was higher during 1998/9 at both sites. During 1997/8, PAR was similar at the two sites. The evergreen site had soils of lower pH, available P, Mg, Ca and K concentrations than the semi-deciduous forest site. Water availability and the sand content of the soil increased and concentrations of total N and C decreased, from summit to valley positions at both sites. Celtis mildbraedii had significantly faster growth rates than S. glaucescens, and growth of both species was greater at the semi-deciduous than the evergreen forest site during the wet year (1998/9) but not during the dry year (1997/8). Celtis mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest grew less in valley than summit and slope positions. We conclude that in the absence of a severe dry season, growth is higher in semi-deciduous than evergreen forest, and is related to the higher soil fertility in more seasonal forest. The patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that concentrations of available P and/or cations in the soil limit growth in evergreen forest, while concentrations of N in valley soils limit growth of C. mildbraedii in semi-deciduous forest. There was no evidence that variation in PAR influenced growth rates in these forests. A reduction in growth rate on less fertile soils may be a factor determining the distribution limit of dry forest species, such as C. mildbraedii, in evergreen forest.

KW - Ghana

KW - nutrient limitation

KW - soil water availability

KW - spatial scale

KW - species distribution

KW - tree growth

KW - NUTRIENT LIMITATION

KW - PHOSPHORUS FERTILIZATION

KW - DIPTEROCARP FOREST

KW - DENDROMETER BANDS

KW - NATIONAL-PARK

KW - COSTA-RICA

KW - VEGETATION

KW - PHENOLOGY

KW - NITROGEN

KW - PATTERNS

U2 - 10.1017/S0266467403003146

DO - 10.1017/S0266467403003146

M3 - Article

VL - 19

SP - 109

EP - 125

JO - Journal of Tropical Ecology

JF - Journal of Tropical Ecology

SN - 0266-4674

ER -