Journal of Tropical Ecology

Two-year tree growth patterns investigated from monthly girth records using dendrometer bands in a wet evergreen forest in India

Raphaël  Pélissier a1a2c1 and Jean-pierre  Pascal a2
a1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Laboratoire ERMES, 5 rue du Carbone, 45072 Orléans Cedex 2, France
a2 Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, UMR 5558 CNRS-Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France


With the aim of characterizing tree growth patterns, this paper re-examines the growth data of 100 selected trees belonging to 24 species that were recorded monthly in a 0.2-ha plot of a wet evergreen forest in the Western Ghats of India during the period 1980–82 using dendrometer bands. The mean growth profile, combining all of the selected trees, showed: (a) a significantly lower annual growth rate during the second year of survey which seemed to be negatively related to monsoon precipitation; (b) significant intra-annual growth variation clearly related to the regular alternation between a period of heavy rain and a quite long dry season of the monsoon climatic regime. Analysis of the variability of the individual smoothed growth profiles representing the 2-y trend of the growth data showed that: (a) the mean growth rate depended on a combination of an intrinsic endogenous variable (the structural class grouping species according to their maximum size), a tree size variable (tree diameter at breast height, dbh) and a neighbourhood variable (the number of taller neighbours in a 10-m radius); (b) the sudden change in growth rate from one year to the other was not predictable using these variables. The amplitude of the seasonal variations, investigated from the detrended growth profiles, appeared to be dependent on a combination of tree dbh and the number of taller neighbours in a 10-m radius. A co-inertia analysis of the smoothed and the detrended growth profiles indicated that the trees with fast growth also exhibited high seasonal variation. It is suggested that fast growing trees are those with favourable crown positions, which are consequently subject to high transpiration rates due to radiation and wind exposure.

(Accepted December 19 1999)

Key Words: dendrometer bands; detrended growth profiles; seasonal growth variations; smoothed growth profiles; tropical wet evergreen forest; 2-y growth trend; Western Ghats of India.

c1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Laboratoire ERMES, 5, rue du Carbone, 45072 Orléans Cedex 2, France. E-mail: