Variation in tropical forest growth rates: combined effects of functional group composition and resource availability

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Abstract

Rates of tree growth in tropical forests reflect variation in life history strategies, contribute to the determination of species' distributional limits, set limits to timber harvesting and control the carbon balance of the stands. Here, we review the resources that limit tree growth at different temporal and spatial scales, and the different growth rates and responses of functional groups defined on the basis of regeneration strategy, maximum size, and species' associations with particular edaphic and climatic conditions.

Variation in soil water availability determines intra- and inter-annual patterns of growth within seasonal forests, whereas irradiance may have a more important role in aseasonal forests. Nutrient supply limits growth rates in montane forests and may determine spatial variation in growth of individual species in lowland forests. However, its role in determining spatial variation in stand-level growth rates is unclear. In terms of growth rate, we propose a functional classification of tropical tree species which contrasts inherently fast-growing, responsive species (pioneer, large-statured species), from slow-growing species that are less responsive to increasing resource availability (shade-bearers, small-statured species). In a semi-deciduous forest in Ghana, pioneers associated with high-rainfall forests with less fertile soils, had significantly lower growth rates than pioneers that are more abundant in low-rainfall forests with more fertile soils. These results match patterns found in seedling trials and suggest for pioneers that species' associations with particular environmental conditions are useful indicators of maximum growth rate.

The effects of variation in resource availability and of inherent differences between species on stand-level patterns of growth will not be independent if the functional group composition of tropical forests varies along resource gradients. We find that there is increasing evidence of such spatial shifts at both small and large scales in tropical forests. Quantifying these gradients is important for understanding spatial patterns in forest growth rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-36
Number of pages16
JournalPerspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics
Volume6
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003

Fingerprint

forest growth
resource availability
tropical forests
tropical forest
functional group
pioneer species
tree growth
spatial variation
rain
plant available water
lowland forests
Ghana
montane forests
deciduous forests
logging
soil
shade
life history
taxonomy
rainfall

Keywords

  • irradiance
  • maximum size
  • nutrient supply
  • pioneer
  • regeneration groups
  • water availability
  • decidious tree-seedlings
  • neotropical rain-forest
  • mineral-nutrition
  • Puerto-Rico
  • lowland forest
  • soil fertility
  • life-history
  • dry forest
  • phosphorus fertilization
  • dipterocarp forest

Cite this

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title = "Variation in tropical forest growth rates: combined effects of functional group composition and resource availability",
abstract = "Rates of tree growth in tropical forests reflect variation in life history strategies, contribute to the determination of species' distributional limits, set limits to timber harvesting and control the carbon balance of the stands. Here, we review the resources that limit tree growth at different temporal and spatial scales, and the different growth rates and responses of functional groups defined on the basis of regeneration strategy, maximum size, and species' associations with particular edaphic and climatic conditions.Variation in soil water availability determines intra- and inter-annual patterns of growth within seasonal forests, whereas irradiance may have a more important role in aseasonal forests. Nutrient supply limits growth rates in montane forests and may determine spatial variation in growth of individual species in lowland forests. However, its role in determining spatial variation in stand-level growth rates is unclear. In terms of growth rate, we propose a functional classification of tropical tree species which contrasts inherently fast-growing, responsive species (pioneer, large-statured species), from slow-growing species that are less responsive to increasing resource availability (shade-bearers, small-statured species). In a semi-deciduous forest in Ghana, pioneers associated with high-rainfall forests with less fertile soils, had significantly lower growth rates than pioneers that are more abundant in low-rainfall forests with more fertile soils. These results match patterns found in seedling trials and suggest for pioneers that species' associations with particular environmental conditions are useful indicators of maximum growth rate.The effects of variation in resource availability and of inherent differences between species on stand-level patterns of growth will not be independent if the functional group composition of tropical forests varies along resource gradients. We find that there is increasing evidence of such spatial shifts at both small and large scales in tropical forests. Quantifying these gradients is important for understanding spatial patterns in forest growth rates.",
keywords = "irradiance, maximum size, nutrient supply, pioneer, regeneration groups, water availability, decidious tree-seedlings, neotropical rain-forest, mineral-nutrition, Puerto-Rico, lowland forest, soil fertility, life-history, dry forest, phosphorus fertilization, dipterocarp forest",
author = "Baker, {Timothy R.} and Swaine, {Michael D} and Burslem, {David F R P}",
year = "2003",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1078/1433-8319-00040",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
pages = "21--36",
journal = "Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics",
issn = "1433-8319",
publisher = "Urban und Fischer Verlag Jena",
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}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Variation in tropical forest growth rates: combined effects of functional group composition and resource availability

AU - Baker, Timothy R.

AU - Swaine, Michael D

AU - Burslem, David F R P

PY - 2003/11

Y1 - 2003/11

N2 - Rates of tree growth in tropical forests reflect variation in life history strategies, contribute to the determination of species' distributional limits, set limits to timber harvesting and control the carbon balance of the stands. Here, we review the resources that limit tree growth at different temporal and spatial scales, and the different growth rates and responses of functional groups defined on the basis of regeneration strategy, maximum size, and species' associations with particular edaphic and climatic conditions.Variation in soil water availability determines intra- and inter-annual patterns of growth within seasonal forests, whereas irradiance may have a more important role in aseasonal forests. Nutrient supply limits growth rates in montane forests and may determine spatial variation in growth of individual species in lowland forests. However, its role in determining spatial variation in stand-level growth rates is unclear. In terms of growth rate, we propose a functional classification of tropical tree species which contrasts inherently fast-growing, responsive species (pioneer, large-statured species), from slow-growing species that are less responsive to increasing resource availability (shade-bearers, small-statured species). In a semi-deciduous forest in Ghana, pioneers associated with high-rainfall forests with less fertile soils, had significantly lower growth rates than pioneers that are more abundant in low-rainfall forests with more fertile soils. These results match patterns found in seedling trials and suggest for pioneers that species' associations with particular environmental conditions are useful indicators of maximum growth rate.The effects of variation in resource availability and of inherent differences between species on stand-level patterns of growth will not be independent if the functional group composition of tropical forests varies along resource gradients. We find that there is increasing evidence of such spatial shifts at both small and large scales in tropical forests. Quantifying these gradients is important for understanding spatial patterns in forest growth rates.

AB - Rates of tree growth in tropical forests reflect variation in life history strategies, contribute to the determination of species' distributional limits, set limits to timber harvesting and control the carbon balance of the stands. Here, we review the resources that limit tree growth at different temporal and spatial scales, and the different growth rates and responses of functional groups defined on the basis of regeneration strategy, maximum size, and species' associations with particular edaphic and climatic conditions.Variation in soil water availability determines intra- and inter-annual patterns of growth within seasonal forests, whereas irradiance may have a more important role in aseasonal forests. Nutrient supply limits growth rates in montane forests and may determine spatial variation in growth of individual species in lowland forests. However, its role in determining spatial variation in stand-level growth rates is unclear. In terms of growth rate, we propose a functional classification of tropical tree species which contrasts inherently fast-growing, responsive species (pioneer, large-statured species), from slow-growing species that are less responsive to increasing resource availability (shade-bearers, small-statured species). In a semi-deciduous forest in Ghana, pioneers associated with high-rainfall forests with less fertile soils, had significantly lower growth rates than pioneers that are more abundant in low-rainfall forests with more fertile soils. These results match patterns found in seedling trials and suggest for pioneers that species' associations with particular environmental conditions are useful indicators of maximum growth rate.The effects of variation in resource availability and of inherent differences between species on stand-level patterns of growth will not be independent if the functional group composition of tropical forests varies along resource gradients. We find that there is increasing evidence of such spatial shifts at both small and large scales in tropical forests. Quantifying these gradients is important for understanding spatial patterns in forest growth rates.

KW - irradiance

KW - maximum size

KW - nutrient supply

KW - pioneer

KW - regeneration groups

KW - water availability

KW - decidious tree-seedlings

KW - neotropical rain-forest

KW - mineral-nutrition

KW - Puerto-Rico

KW - lowland forest

KW - soil fertility

KW - life-history

KW - dry forest

KW - phosphorus fertilization

KW - dipterocarp forest

U2 - 10.1078/1433-8319-00040

DO - 10.1078/1433-8319-00040

M3 - Article

VL - 6

SP - 21

EP - 36

JO - Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics

JF - Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics

SN - 1433-8319

IS - 1-2

ER -