, Volume 80, Issue 2, pp 303-313
Date: 20 Jun 2010

Growth of Euterpe edulis Mart. (Arecaceae) under forest and agroforestry in southern Brazil

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The palm Euterpe edulis has high ecological and economic importance in Brazil. Currently, this species is being cultivated and managed for spontaneous regeneration in banana plantations. However, there are no data comparing its plantation growth performance to its native forest growth. We evaluated growth and mortality (M) of individuals of E. edulis planted in secondary dense ombrophilous forest and in banana plantations, as well as their relationships with site variables (canopy opening, soil nutrient availability, density of existing E. edulis, and herbivory). Twelve banana plantation sites and 12 sites in secondary dense ombrophilous forests were selected. At each site, 25 young individuals of E. edulis were planted in 2003. Annually until 2008, morphometric, herbivory, and M of the individuals were evaluated. In 2008, canopy and soil variables were measured at each plot. E. edulis growth was five times higher in banana plots compared to forest plots; current annual increment on height reached 38.9 cm in banana plots, compared to 7.3 cm in forest plots. M was relatively low and similar at both sites, presenting an intraspecific density-dependence pattern. Significant correlations were found between morphometric variables, M, and herbivory of E. edulis and canopy and soil variables. Euterpe edulis presented plasticity that allows for its establishment in banana plantations, indicating high potential for management in agroforestry consortia. Such management may be a useful conservation strategy for this and other shade-tolerant species.