Record Details

Vanschaik, C. P.;Terborgh, J. W.;Wright, S. J.
The phenology of tropical forests: Adaptive significance and consequences for primary consumers
Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics
Journal Article
Parque Nacional del Manu fruiting flowering leafing phenology Costa Rica seed dispersal dry forests hummingbird pollination drought seasonality birds water stress Cocha Cashu seasonality climate ecology plants adaptation large spatial scales light Madre de Dios Bibliography
Most tropical woody plants produce new leaves and flowers in bursts rather than continuously, and most tropical forest communities display seasonal variation in the presence of new leaves, flowers, and fruits. This patterning suggests that phenological changes represent adaptations to either biotic or abiotic factors. Biotic factors may select for either a staggering or a clustering of the phenological activity of individual plant species. We review the evidence for several hypotheses. The idea that plant species can reduce predation by synchronizing their phenological activity has the best support. However, because biotic factors are often arbitrary with respect to the timing of these peaks, it is essential also to consider abiotic influences. A review of published studies demonstrates a major role for climate. Peaks in irradiance are accompanied by peaks in flushing and flowering except where water stress makes this impossible. Thus, in seasonally dry forests, many plants concentrate leafing and flowering around the start of the rainy season; they also tend to fruit at the same time, probably to minimize seedling mortality during the subsequent dry season. Phenological variation at the level of the forest community affects primary consumers who respond by dietary switching, seasonal breeding, changes in range use, or migration. During periods of scarcity, certain plant products, keystone resources, act as mainstays of the primary consumer community.