Seasonal Variability of Photosynthetic Characteristics Influences Growth of Eight Tropical Tree Species at Two Sites with Contrasting Precipitation in Panama

Craven, D.; Dent, D.; Braden, D.; Ashton, MS; Berlyn, GP; Hall, JS


Relative to closed-canopy tropical forests, tree seedlings planted in open grown areas are exposed to higher light intensity, air temperatures, vapor pressure deficit, and greater seasonal fluxes of plant available water than mature tropical forests. The species-specific adaptive capacity to respond to variable precipitation and seasonality in open grown conditions, therefore, is likely to affect species performance in large-scale reforestation efforts. In the present study, we compared the photosynthetic characteristics of eight tropical tree species within and between seasons at two study sites with contrasting dry season intensities. All species except Pseudosamanea guachapele reduced leaf physiological function between the wet and dry seasons. The contrasting severity of seasonal drought stress at the study sites constrained growth rates and photosynthetic characteristics differently. Variation of photosynthetic characteristics at the species level was high, particularly in the dry season. Faster growing species at the less seasonal site, Terminalia amazonia, Inga punctata, Colubrina glandulosa, and Acacia mangium, exhibited a greater adaptive capacity than the other species to down-regulate leaf photosynthesis between seasons. As the dry season was more severe at the more seasonal site, most species strongly reduced physiological function regardless of relative growth rates, except two species (Tectona grandis and P. guachapele) with widespread distributions and relatively high drought tolerance. Our results underscore the need to consider seasonal drought tolerance when selecting tree species for specific reforestation sites.

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Volumen: 261
Número: 10
Editorial: Elsevier
Fecha de publicación: 2011
Página de inicio: 1643
Página final: 1653
Idioma: English