, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1485–1495 | Cite as

Crown allometries are less responsive than stem allometry to tree size and habitat variations in an Indian monsoon forest

  • Cécile Antin
  • Raphaël PélissierEmail author
  • Grégoire Vincent
  • Pierre Couteron
Original Paper


While theoretical allometric models postulate universal scaling exponents, empirical relationships between tree dimensions show marked variability that reflects changes in the biomass allocation pattern. As growth of the various tree compartments may be controlled by different functions, it is hypothesized that they may respond differently to factors of variation, resulting in variable tree morphologies and potentially in trade-offs between allometric relationships. We explore the variability of tree stem and crown allometries using a dataset of 1,729 trees located in an undisturbed wet evergreen forest of the Western Ghats, India. We specifically test whether species adult stature, terrain slope, tree size and crown light exposure affect the relationships between stem diameter and stem height (stem allometry), and between stem diameter and crown width, crown area and crown volume (crown allometries). Results show that both stem and crown allometries are subject to variations in relation to both endogenous (tree size, species adult stature) and exogenous (terrain slope, crown light exposure) factors. Stem allometry appears to be more affected by these factors than are crown allometries, including the stem diameter–crown volume relationship, which proved to be particularly stable. Our results support the idea that height is a prevailing adjustment factor for a tree facing variable growth (notably light) conditions, while stem diameter–crown volume allometry responds more to internal metabolic constraints. We ultimately discuss the various sources of variability in the stem and crown allometries of tropical trees that likely play an important role in forest community dynamics.


Inter-guild variation Intra-guild variation Tree size Terrain slope Species adult stature Crown light exposure 



UPSP is a permanent joint research station of the Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore, and the French Institute of Pondicherry, India. We are very grateful to the many field workers, technicians, engineers and researchers who contributed to the plot’s long-term monitoring, and particularly to Jean-Pierre Pascal who settled the plot in 1990, to S. Ramalingam who took part in all field campaigns up to his retirement in 2011, and to the Gowda family from Uppangala village who are in charge of taking care of the plots. We’d also like to thank two anonymous reviewers of the journal, whose comments greatly helped us improving the manuscript. This study was conducted within the framework of a joint research project between UMR AMAP, France and NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre), India, supported by IFPCAR (Indo-French Promotion Center for Advanced Research) through Grant 4409-C.

Supplementary material

468_2013_896_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cécile Antin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Raphaël Pélissier
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Grégoire Vincent
    • 1
  • Pierre Couteron
    • 1
  1. 1.IRD, UMR AMAP (Botany and Bioinformatics of Plant Architecture)Montpellier Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, French Institute of PondicherryUMIFRE MAEE-CNRSPuducherryIndia

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