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Brazilian Journal of Biology

Print version ISSN 1519-6984On-line version ISSN 1678-4375

Abstract

RAGUSA-NETTO, J.  and  SILVA, RR.. Canopy phenology of a dry forest in western Brazil. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2007, vol.67, n.3, pp.569-575. ISSN 1519-6984.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1519-69842007000300024.

Dry forests are common, although highly threatened in the Neotropics. Their ecological processes are mostly influenced by rainfall pattern, hence their cycles exhibit contrasting phases. We studied the phenology of canopy trees in a primary dry forest in Western Brazil in the foothills of the Urucum mountain chain, in order to improve our knowledge on the functioning of these poorly-known forests. Leaf shedding started in the early dry season and was massive in the latter part of this period. Most leaf loss occurred in dry hills, while wet valleys remained evergreen. Anemochorich and autochorich species predominated in dry hills, presumably due to their tolerance to dry conditions and enhanced exposition to winds, which favour diaspores removal and dispersal. Conversely, zoochorich species dominated the wet valleys. Flowering was intense in the late dry season, the driest period of the year, while fruiting was massive just after the onset of rains, as well as flushing. Therefore, most flowering was unrelated to wet conditions, although such an abiotic factor, potentially, triggered the major fruiting episode, widely comprised by zoochorich species. Anemochorich and autochorich species flowered and fruited in the course of the long dry season. The contrasting environmental conditions present in the hills and valleys determine the arrangement of a mosaic in which patches of zoochorich and evergreen trees alternate with patches of non zoochorich and highly deciduous species. Consequently, species with such syndromes exhibited marked flowering and fruiting patterns, accordingly to the pronounced seasonality.

Keywords : canopy trees; deciduous forest; seasonality; dispersal syndromes; flowering and fruiting.

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