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Brazilian Journal of Botany

Print version ISSN 0100-8404On-line version ISSN 1806-9959


NARDOTO, GABRIELA B.; SOUZA, MÔNICA P.  and  FRANCO, AUGUSTO C.. Estabelecimento e padrões sazonais de produtividade de Kielmeyera coriacea (Spr) Mart. nos cerrados do Planalto Central: efeitos do estresse hídrico e sombreamento. Revta. brasil. Bot. [online]. 1998, vol.21, n.3, pp.-. ISSN 1806-9959.

Savannas (cerrados) of Central Brazil are characterized by patches of woody vegetation scattered in a continuous graminoid layer. The more open savanna formations, where the grass layer predominates, are locally known as "campo sujo". Kielmeyera coriacea is a deciduous tree, characteristic of the "cerrados" of Central Brazil. In this study, we investigated how seasonal changes in soil water availability and light affected productivity patterns and survival of plants of K. coriacea, transplanted in the grass matrix of a "campo sujo" formation. Two-month old plants were transplanted in the first half of the wet season (November-December) of 1994. Most mortality occurred just after plant transplanting, during the wet season. Most of the surviving plants were able to withstand the subsequent dry season, which showed that the dry period was not a major influence on survival. However, in the dry season of the second year, 35% of the surviving plants were removed by armadillos (Dasypus spp). By July of both 1995 and 1996, when soil water potential (Ysoil) reached less than -2.5 MPa at a depth of 5 cm and less than -1.0 MPa at a depth of 15 cm, most of the plants had already lost their leaves. Some of the plants lost all aerial parts and resprouted from the soil in the first months of the wet season, when Ysoil was close to zero. There was little investment in aerial parts during the 28 months of the study period. Plant height increased about 1.5 cm during this period and not more than 3-4 leaves were produced during the wet season of each year. Based on measurements of light availability, estimated CO2 assimilation rates of 5 cm high plants of K. coriacea with horizontal leaves would range between 26 to 40% of the photosynthetic capacity, whereas estimations of CO2 assimilation rates of 50 cm high plants of K. coriacea would reach 80% of the photosynthetic capacity, because plants of this size would not be shaded by the grass layer. In conclusion, these results suggest that the seasonal drought restricted plant productivity of this species. In addition, shading by the grass canopy in the wet season potentially limited plant productivity in the first years of life.

Keywords : Soil water potential; neotropical savannas; light availability; microhabitat.

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