Phenology of Five Tree Species of a Tropical Dry Forest in Yucatán, Mexico: Effects of Environmental and Physiological Factors


Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

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In order to relate phenological responses of trees to environmental variables we recorded the phenological patterns and select morphological and physiological traits (wood density and water potentials) of five tree species (Acacia gaumeri, Apoplanesia paniculata, Bursera simaruba, Gymnopodium floribundum, and Diospyros cuneata) in the tropical dry deciduous forest of the National Park of Dzibilchaltún, Yucatan, Mexico, over a period of 2 years (2004 and 2005). We chose two sites: one close to a permanent water source, locally known as ‘cenote’ (the CC site, ground water table was found at 2 m) and the other far from the cenote (FC site ground water table was at a depth of 10 m). Sites mainly differed in soil depth (FC site having greater soil depth) and soil nutrient characteristics (FC site more potassium, CC site more phosphorous). Our results indicated significant differences in phenology within species between sites and years, with leaf, flower and fruit production tending to be higher at the CC site and in the year 2004. Wood density and xylem water potentials were negatively related to each other, and midday water potentials were higher at the CC site. Differences in phenology found among years suggest that the timing of rainfall as well as the duration of periods without rain may play a more important role in phenology than total annual precipitation. Also differences inter-sites suggest a strong effect of site on tree phenology. Proximity to superficial bodies of water, such as cenotes, coupled with a greater concentration of available phosphorus in the soil may modify the effect of drought in this tropical dry deciduous forest.

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Plant and Soil

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