, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 1-12
Date: 13 Jul 2005

Relating tree growth to rainfall in Bolivian rain forests: a test for six species using tree ring analysis

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Abstract

Many tropical regions show one distinct dry season. Often, this seasonality induces cambial dormancy of trees, particularly if these belong to deciduous species. This will often lead to the formation of annual rings. The aim of this study was to determine whether tree species in the Bolivian Amazon region form annual rings and to study the influence of the total amount and seasonal distribution of rainfall on diameter growth. Ring widths were measured on stem discs of a total of 154 trees belonging to six rain forest species. By correlating ring width and monthly rainfall data we proved the annual character of the tree rings for four of our study species. For two other species the annual character was proved by counting rings on trees of known age and by radiocarbon dating. The results of the climate–growth analysis show a positive relationship between tree growth and rainfall in certain periods of the year, indicating that rainfall plays a major role in tree growth. Three species showed a strong relationship with rainfall at the beginning of the rainy season, while one species is most sensitive to the rainfall at the end of the previous growing season. These results clearly demonstrate that tree ring analysis can be successfully applied in the tropics and that it is a promising method for various research disciplines.

Communicated by Christian Koerner