Original Article


, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 445-456

First online:

Increasing day-length induces spring flushing of tropical dry forest trees in the absence of rain

  • Guillermo RiveraAffiliated withInstituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal, Universidad de Córdoba, Casilla de Correo 495, 5000 Cordoba, Argentina
  • , Stephen ElliottAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50002
  • , Linda S. CaldasAffiliated withDepartamento de Botânica, C.P. 04457, Universidade de Brasília, CEP 70919-970, Brasília, DF, Brazil
  • , Guillermo NicolossiAffiliated withIntendencia Parque Nacional Calilegua, San Lorenzo s/n, 4514 Calilegua, Jujuy, Argentina
  • , Vera T. CoradinAffiliated withDepartamento de Ecologia, C.P. 04457, Universidade de Brasília, CEP 70919-970, Brasília, DF, Brazil
  • , Rolf BorchertAffiliated withDivision of Biological Sciences, 1200 Haworth Hall, Sunnyside Ave., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-7534, USA

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In many conspecific trees of >50 species highly synchronous bud break with low inter-annual variation was observed during the late dry season, around the spring equinox, in semideciduous tropical forests of Argentina, Costa Rica, Java and Thailand and in tropical savannas of Central Brazil. Bud break was 6 months out of phase between the northern and southern hemispheres and started about 1 month earlier in the subtropics than at lower latitudes. These observations indicate that "spring flushing", i.e., synchronous bud break around the spring equinox and weeks before the first rains of the wet season, is induced by an increase in photoperiod of 30 min or less. Spring flushing is common in semideciduous forests characterized by a 4–6 month dry season and annual rainfall of 800–1,500 mm, but rare in neotropical forests with a shorter dry season or lower annual precipitation. Establishment of new foliage shortly before the wet growing season is likely to optimize photosynthetic gain in tropical forests with a relatively short growing season.

Bud break Phenology Photoperiodic control Tropical semideciduous forests