, 146:1 | Cite as

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

  • Roel J. W. BrienenEmail author
  • Pieter A. Zuidema


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.


Climate–growth relation Radiocarbon dating Tropical rain forest Tropical dendrochronology Wood anatomy 



We are very grateful to Adhemar Cassanova Arias, Merlijn Janssens, Henri Noordman, Jeanette Pacajes, Anneke Rijpkema, Jan Rodenburg, Vincent Vos and Oliver Yancke for their indispensable assistance with the ring measurements and the staff of PROMAB and the ‘field team of Purisima’ for their help with the fieldwork. We thank Instituto de Geología y Medio Ambiente (IGEMA) from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) in La Paz and Dr. Jaime Argollo for the use of their measurement equipment. Rene Boot, Ute Sass, Marinus Werger and Martin Worbes and two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for helpful comments on an earlier draft version of this paper. This research was part of the research program of the Programa de Manejo de Bosques de la Amazonía Boliviana (PROMAB). Radiocarbon dating was skilfully done by dr. K. van den Borg, Physics department, Utrecht University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant EcologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Programa Manejo de Bosques de la Amazonía Boliviana (PROMAB)RiberaltaBolivia

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