, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1129-1138
Date: 02 Mar 2013

Monthly stem increment in relation to climatic variables during 7 years in an East African rainforest

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Monthly stem increment of 766 trees was assessed for 7 years in Kakamega Forest, Kenya and related to monthly climatic variables. Mean stem increment of all tree individuals correlated negatively with maximum temperature but not with mean and minimum temperatures. For the precipitation variables sum of precipitation and number of rainy days we found positive correlations. Stem increment of the trees in the early-, mid-, and late-successional groups correlated positively with the number of rainy days. For late-successional trees increment correlated negatively with mean and maximum temperature and positively with all other precipitation variables. For mid-successional trees we found a negative correlation with mean temperature. In addition, the stem increment of most species related positively to precipitation variables and negatively to mean and maximum temperature. In view of the expected increasing temperatures and fewer but heavier rain events, our results suggest that climate change will lead to a reduction in stem increment. The results appertaining to the successional groups imply that early and mid-successional species are better equipped to perform well under the expected future climatic conditions than the late-successional species. This could reduce the role of this East African forest as a carbon store. As the responses to climatic variables were highly group- and species-specific it is likely that climate change will result in a species composition shift, presumably in favour of drought-resistant and heat-tolerating species.

Communicated by A. Braeuning.