Crown structure and biomass allocation strategies of three juvenile tropical tree species

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Plant Ecology


We measured leaf distribution, crown shape, and biomass allocation patterns in open-grown saplings of three tree species (Cedrela odorata, Cordia alliodora, and Hyeronima alchorneoides) that differed in above-ground architecture and successional status. The objectives were to: (1) analyze the relationship between crown structure and biomass allocation in free-growing juveniles and (2) assess whether predictions that relate crown structure and biomass distribution of adult individuals can be applied to noncompeting saplings. Significant differences in crown structure and biomass allocation were found among the three species. Mean dry biomass was 990 g in Cedrela, 665 g, in Cordia, and 1281 g in Hyeronima. Cedrela allocated a greater proportion of biomass into roots than the other two species. We observed no distinct pattern of foliage angle, and no evidence of decrease in crown construction efficiency with tree size. Predictions stated by other authors for mature individuals partially explained the relationships between biomass allocation and morphological variables of non-competing saplings. We proposed two alternative biomass allocation patterns: (1) in open conditions saplings of early successional species exhibit structural characteristics more adapted for high light levels than gap-dependent species, and (2) early successional species have lower cost-benefit ratio for biomass construction and higher foliar efficiency than late successional ones. In general, crown morphometric characteristics and biomass distribution patterns of the three species studied corresponded with the two proposed patterns.








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