Original Paper

Trees

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1485-1495

First online:

Crown allometries are less responsive than stem allometry to tree size and habitat variations in an Indian monsoon forest

  • Cécile AntinAffiliated withIRD, UMR AMAP (Botany and Bioinformatics of Plant Architecture)Department of Ecology, French Institute of Pondicherry, UMIFRE MAEE-CNRS
  • , Raphaël PélissierAffiliated withIRD, UMR AMAP (Botany and Bioinformatics of Plant Architecture)Department of Ecology, French Institute of Pondicherry, UMIFRE MAEE-CNRS Email author 
  • , Grégoire VincentAffiliated withIRD, UMR AMAP (Botany and Bioinformatics of Plant Architecture)
  • , Pierre CouteronAffiliated withIRD, UMR AMAP (Botany and Bioinformatics of Plant Architecture)

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Abstract

While theoretical allometric models postulate universal scaling exponents, empirical relationships between tree dimensions show marked variability that reflects changes in the biomass allocation pattern. As growth of the various tree compartments may be controlled by different functions, it is hypothesized that they may respond differently to factors of variation, resulting in variable tree morphologies and potentially in trade-offs between allometric relationships. We explore the variability of tree stem and crown allometries using a dataset of 1,729 trees located in an undisturbed wet evergreen forest of the Western Ghats, India. We specifically test whether species adult stature, terrain slope, tree size and crown light exposure affect the relationships between stem diameter and stem height (stem allometry), and between stem diameter and crown width, crown area and crown volume (crown allometries). Results show that both stem and crown allometries are subject to variations in relation to both endogenous (tree size, species adult stature) and exogenous (terrain slope, crown light exposure) factors. Stem allometry appears to be more affected by these factors than are crown allometries, including the stem diameter–crown volume relationship, which proved to be particularly stable. Our results support the idea that height is a prevailing adjustment factor for a tree facing variable growth (notably light) conditions, while stem diameter–crown volume allometry responds more to internal metabolic constraints. We ultimately discuss the various sources of variability in the stem and crown allometries of tropical trees that likely play an important role in forest community dynamics.

Keywords

Inter-guild variation Intra-guild variation Tree size Terrain slope Species adult stature Crown light exposure