Do the phenology and functional stem attributes of woody species allow for the identification of functional groups in the semiarid region of Brazil?
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- de Lima, A.L.A., de Sá Barretto Sampaio, E.V., de Castro, C.C. et al. Trees (2012) 26: 1605. doi:10.1007/s00468-012-0735-2
The phenology of tree species in environments that are subject to strong climatic seasonality is mainly determined by water availability, which may vary as a function of wood density. The relationship among phenology, water potential, wood density and the capacity of water storage in the stem were determined for woody species of caatinga vegetation (dry forest) in the semiarid region of NE Brazil. Leaf flush and fall, flowering and fruiting events were recorded over a 31-month period, and the water potential was measured over a two-year period. These data were related to precipitation, water availability in the soil and photoperiod. Seven deciduous species exhibited low wood density (DLWD, <0.5 g cm−3), high capacity of water storage in the stem (until 250 % of the dry weight) and high water potential during the year, as opposed to 15 deciduous species that showed high wood density (DHWD, ≥0.5 g cm−3). Leaf flush, flowering and the fruiting of DHWD species were related to precipitation, whereas these phenological events occurred at the end of the dry season and/or the beginning of the rainy season for DLWD species and were related to the photoperiod. The two evergreen species showed variations of water potential that were intermediate between those of DHWD and DLWD deciduous species, leaf flush during the dry season and flowering at the end of dry season. These results suggest the existence of three functional groups: evergreen species, DHWD deciduous species and DLWD deciduous species.