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Intra-annual stem increment patterns and climatic responses in five tree species from an Ecuadorian tropical dry forest


Key message

Intra-annual increment patterns and wood production are coupled with rainfall seasonality in five tree species of a Tumbesian tropical dry forest. However, climatic responses show variation among species.


In many tropical dry forests, information on radial-growth rates and phenology of wood formation is still lacking. However, such information is needed to better manage these forests, which have been severely disturbed by anthropogenic use and are also threatened by climate warming. To cover this research gap, we evaluated intra-annual variations in stem diameter and assessed cambial growth dynamics in five tree species of a Tumbesian tropical dry forest located in southern Ecuador. Using data from band dendrometers over a 5-year period, we modeled seasonal variations in stem increments through generalized additive mixed models. Monthly radial increments and annual growth rates were also correlated with monthly climatic variables (mean, maximum and minimum temperature, and total rainfall). Stem increments and xylem growth were clearly coupled with rainfall seasonality, although temperature effects were also detected. Interestingly, annual growth in all species did not respond similarly to climate, despite having similar growth rates and intra-annual growth patterns. At the inter-annual scale, climate effects were related to temperature and rainfall, emphasizing the relevance for tree growth of climatic conditions in standard years between “El Niño” events. Under a future scenario of climate warming, these contrasting growth responses to climate might imply changes in competitive dominance among coexisting species of tropical dry forests.

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JJC acknowledges the support of Project “Explorando si la diversidad funcional y estructural de los bosques confiere resistencia y resiliencia a la sequía: implicaciones para la adaptación al cambio climático” (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, CGL2015-69186-C2-1-R). CIE acknowledges the support of projects “Análisis de la multifuncionalidad de los ecosistemas secos de Ecuador como herramienta para determinar el estado de conservación y los servicios ambientales” and “Respuestas de los ecosistemas secos a un fenómeno extremo de ENSO” funded by Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja. Suggestions of two anonymous referees increased the quality of the manuscript. We acknowledge Angel Gusmán and Jorge Armijos for their help during the field work.

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Correspondence to Ana I. García-Cervigón.

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Communicated by A. Braeuning.

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García-Cervigón, A.I., Camarero, J.J. & Espinosa, C.I. Intra-annual stem increment patterns and climatic responses in five tree species from an Ecuadorian tropical dry forest. Trees 31, 1057–1067 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-017-1530-x

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  • Band dendrometers
  • Climatic response
  • Leaf phenology
  • Microcores
  • Radial-increment patterns
  • Xylem growth