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Reproductive Phenology of a Tropical Dry Forest in Mudumalai, Southern India
K. S. Murali and R. Sukumar
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 82, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 759-767
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2261441
Page Count: 9
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1 Flowering and fruiting phenologies of a tropical dry forest in Mudumalai, southern India, were studied between April 1988 and August 1990. Two sites, a wetter site I receiving 1100 mm and a drier site II receiving 600 mm of rainfall annually, are compared. A total of 286 trees from 38 species at site I and 167 trees from 27 species at site II was marked for phenological observations. There were 11 species common to the two sites. Several hypotheses relating to the evolution of reproductive phenology are tested. 2 Frequency of species flowering attained a peak at site I during the dry season but at site II, where soil moisture may be limiting during the dry months, the peak was during the wet season. At both sites a majority of species flushed leaves and flowered simultaneously. Among various guilds, the bird-pollinated guild showed distinct dry season flowering, which may be related to better advertisement of large flowers to pollinators during the leafless dry phase. The wind-pollinated guild flowered mainly during the wet season, when wind speeds are highest and favourable for pollen transport. The insect-pollinated guild showed no seasonality in flowering in site I but a wet season flowering in site II. 3 Fruiting frequency attained a peak in site I during the late wet season extending into the early dry season; a time-lag correlation showed that fruiting followed rainfall with a lag of about two months. Site II showed a similar fruiting pattern but this was not statistically significant. The dispersal guilds (animal, wind, and explosive passively-dispersed) did not show any clear seasonality in fruiting, except for the animal-dispersed guild which showed wet season fruiting in site I. 4 Hurlbert's overlap index was also calculated in order to look at synchrony in flowering and fruiting irrespective of climatic (dry and wet month) seasonality. In general, overlap in flowering and fruiting guilds was high because of seasonal aggregation. Among the exceptions, at site II the wind-pollinated flowering guild did not show significant overlap between species although flowering aggregated in the wet season. This could be due to the need to avoid heterospecific pollen transfer. 5 Rarer species tended to flower earlier in the dry season and this again could be an adaptation to avoid the risk of heterospecific pollen transfer or competition for pollinators. The more abundant species flowered mainly during the wet season. Species which flower earlier have larger flowers and, having invested more energy in flowers, also have shorter flower to fruit durations.
Journal of Ecology © 1994 British Ecological Society