Leaf Dynamics in a Tropical Cloud Forest: Phenology, Herbivory, and Life Span



How to Cite

Williams-Linera, G. (1999). Leaf Dynamics in a Tropical Cloud Forest: Phenology, Herbivory, and Life Span. Selbyana, 20(1), 98–105. Retrieved from https://ojs.test.flvc.org/selbyana/article/view/120452


An 8-year study of leaf dynamics was made in a tropical montane cloud forest (1250-1470 m a.s.1.) in central Veracruz, Mexico. The objective was to determine patterns for both deciduous and broadleaved-evergreen tree species respective to phenology (24 species), herbivory (3 species), and life span (9 species). Data were recorded from the forest floor with binoculars; ladders were used to reach middle canopy leaves and to observe the upper part of the canopy from high vantagepoints. Differences were found in foliar phenology, and leaf fall was correlated to minimum temperature only for deciduous species. Leaf flushing was correlated with maximum temperature for all deciduous and several evergreen trees. The herbivory rate was higher in the understory than in the canopy, and it was higher in young leaves than in mature leaves. Mean leaf longevity for deciduous species was 9.0 months; for evergreen trees, it was 17.6 months. Life span, however, was not related to leaf habit, since both the shortest (6.4 months) and longest (36.4 months) mean longevity was recorded in evergreens. Specific leaf area was highly correlated with life span and herbivory. Temperatures may act as proximate cues to leaf phenology, but ultimate causes have to be considered when discussing leaf dynamics. La dinámica foliar en un bosque de neblina (1250-1470 m) se estudió durante ocho años en Veracruz, México. El objectivo fue determinar patrones fenológicos (24 especies), niveles de herbivoría (3 especies), y longevidad foliar (9 especies) para especies arbóreas caducifolias y perennifolias. Las observaciones se hicieron desde el piso del bosque con binoculares, con escaleras para alcanzar el dosel medio y en puntos altos para observar la parte superior del dosel. Se encontraron diferencias temporales en fenología foliar, pero sólo en especies caducifolias, la caída de hojas estuvo correlacionada con la temperatura mínima. La producción de hojas en árboles caducifolios y perennifolios estuvo correlacionada con temperatura máxima. La tasa de herbivoría fue mayor en el sotobosque que en el dosel y en hojas jóvenes que en hojas maduras. La longevidad media para especies caducifolias fue de 9.0 meses y para árboles perennifolios fue de 17.6 meses. Sin embargo, el lapso de vida no se relacionó con hábito ya que la longevidad media más corta (6.4 meses) y la más larga (36.4 meses) se registraron en perennifolios. El área foliar específica estuvo altamente correlacionada con lapso de vida y herbivoria. Las temperaturas podrían actuar como claves próximas para disparar eventos fenológicos pero las causas últimas deben considerarse cuando se discute la dinámica foliar.


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