, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 203-213

Phenological patterns among plant life-forms in a subtropical forest in southern Brazil

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Abstract

Phenological patterns in tropical plants usually are associated with the clear seasonality of rainfall associated with very different wet and dry seasons. In southern Brazil, in a subtropical forest with no pronounced dry season (average annual precipitation = 1389 mm, minimum monthly average c. 75 mm), plant phenology was studied to test for patterns (periodicity), to examine how phenological patterns vary among life-forms, and to test whether phenological cycles are associated with climatic variables. Thirty-seven plant species in four life-forms (trees, shrubs, lianas and epiphytes) were studied for 2 yr (1996-98) in an Araucaria forest remnant in southern Brazil, in the state of Paraná. Correlation and multiple regression methods established relationships between phenology and climate in terms of daylength, temperature and rainfall. In this Araucaria forest, plants showed seasonality in most life-forms and phenological phases. Leaf-fall, with its peak during the drier months (April to July), was the most seasonal. Flushing and flowering occurred during the wetter months (September to December), while fruiting occurred all year long. Phenologies varied among life-forms, and were strongly associated with daylength or temperature of preceding months, suggesting that plants receive their phenological cues well in advance of their phenological response. Phenologies in this Araucaria forest appear to be associated with the most predictable and highly correlated of the climatic variables, daylength and temperature and least so with rainfall, which is unpredictable.