Background and aims
Phenological variations in tropical forests are usually explained by climate. Nevertheless, considering that soil water availability and nutrient content also influence plant water status and metabolism, soil conditions may also be important in the regulation of plant reproductive and vegetative activities over time. We investigated whether phenological patterns and stem growth differ in trees growing in two types of soil that display contrasting water and nutrient availability, namely, Gleysol (moist and nutrient-poor) and Cambisol (drier and nutrient-rich).
Phenological observations (flushing, leaf fall, flowering and fruiting) and stem diameter growth were recorded for 120 trees fitted with fixed dendrometer bands, at 15 days intervals, for 1 year. Two species of contrasting deciduousness were investigated: Senna multijuga (semi-deciduous) and Citharexylum myrianthum (deciduous).
Both species were seasonal in all phenophases, regardless of soil type. However, frequency, mean date and intensity of phenophases varied according to soil type. Girth increment of C. myrianthum was four times greater in Cambisol than in Gleysol, whereas the type of soil had no significant effect on that of S. multijuga.
These results show that soil characteristics also play an important role in determining phenological patterns and growth and must be considered when analysing phenological patterns in tropical forests.