Journal of Tropical Ecology

Phenology and stem-growth periodicity of tree species in Amazonian floodplain forests

Jochen Schöngart  a1 c1 , Maria Teresa F. Piedade  a2 , Sabine Ludwigshausen  a3 , Viviana Horna  a4 and Martin Worbes  a1
a1 Institute for Forest Botany, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
a2 Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Av. André Araujó 1756, Cx. P. 478, 69011-910 Manaus/AM, Brazil
a3 Max-Planck-Institute for Limnology, Tropical Ecology, P.O. Box 165, 24302 Plön, Germany
a4 Plant Ecology, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany


To study the impact of the annual long-term flooding (flood-pulse) on seasonal tree development in Amazonian floodplains, the phenology and growth in stem diameter of various tree species with different leaf-change patterns were observed over a period of 2 y. The trees of the functional ecotypes, evergreen, brevi-deciduous, deciduous and stem-succulent showed a periodic behaviour mainly triggered by the flood-pulse. Trees have high increment during the terrestrial phase. Flooding causes a shedding of some or all leaves leading to a cambial dormancy of about 2 mo and the formation of an annual ring. Studies carried out in tropical dry forests verify a strong relationship between the phenological development and the water status of the trees, strongly affected by seasonal drought. The comparison of the phenology and the diameter growth of the corresponding ecotypes in floodplain forest and a semi-deciduous forest in Venezuela shows a displacement of at least 2 mo in the periodicity, except for stem-succulent tree species. For stem-succulent trees it remains unclear which factors influence phenology and stem diameter growth.

(Accepted August 24 2001)

Key Words: Amazon; annual rings; dendrometer; ecotypes; floodplain forest; phenology; semi-deciduous forest; várzea; Venezuela.

c1 Corresponding author