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Age structure and growth of Dracaena cinnabari populations on Socotra

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Unique Dracaena cinnabari woodlands on Socotra Island—relics of the Mio-Pliocene xerophile-sclerophyllous southern Tethys Flora—were examined in detail, especially with regard to their age structure. Detailed statistical analyses of sets of 50 trees at four localities were performed in order to define a model reflecting relationships between specific growth habit and actual age. The problematic nature of determining the age of an individual tree or specific populations of D. cinnabari is illustrated by three models relating to orders of branching, frequency of fruiting, etc. which allow the actual tree age to be calculated. Based on statistical analyses as well as direct field observations, D. cinnabari populations on Socotra do not regenerate to a great extent and their age structure generally indicates overmaturity. The unique Firmihin D. cinnabari woodland will reach the stage of intensive disintegration within 30–77 years with 95% probability. According to our analysis of dead trees, it is evident that, on average, D. cinnabari in populations at Firmihin dies after reaching 17 orders of peripheral branches.

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This study was facilitated mainly by the kind support of the Czech Grant Agency GACR under the POSTDOC project No.526/99/P044. We greatly appreciate the kind logistical backing of the Environmental Protection Council of Yemen, and particularly wish to thank its deputy-director, Dr. Al-Guneid. We also gratefully acknowledge the scientific advice of our university colleagues: Dr. A. Bucek for enthusiastic support during all stages of the work, Dr. M. Martinkova for her suggestions concerning plant anatomy analysis, Drs. P. Jelinek and H. Habrova for their helpful company in the field. Dr. T. Miller from RBGE deserves our gratitude for sharing his long-term observations. Last but not least, full credit is given to Mohammad "Al Keybání" for his guidance through the mysterious "Island Abode of Bliss".

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Correspondence to Radim Adolt.

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Adolt, R., Pavlis, J. Age structure and growth of Dracaena cinnabari populations on Socotra. Trees 18, 43–53 (2004).

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