Growth Rings, Phenology, Hurricane Disturbance and Climate in Cyrilla racemiflora L., a Rain Forest Tree of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico
Allan P. Drew
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 35-49
The growth phenology of Cyrilla racemiflora L., the dominant tree species of the montane rain forest, (subtropical lower montane rain forest, sensu Holdridge) of the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico was studied intensively during 1989, and then semiannually through mid-1993 to determine the periodicity of changes in xylem structure. Four trees at 770 m were monitored for flowering, branch elongation, leaf litterfall, and xylem cell growth and differentiation in the lower stem, and these events were related to local seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature. Hurricane Hugo defoliated study trees in September, 1989. Bud-break and branch elongation in March, 1989 were followed by earlywood xylem cell production in the lower stem in April and the onset of flowering in May. Leaf litterfall was greatest between April and June, coinciding with peak branch growth and new leaf formation. Latewood xylem was produced in December. The general phenological pattern was synchronized between trees and over study years. Vessel diameter and density were monitored along with thickness of earlywood and latewood and the former converted to vessel lumen area, a measure of xylem conductance capacity. Annual growth rings were formed with periods of earlywood and latewood production coinciding with traditional summer (rainy) and winter (dry) seasons, respectively, in the Luquillo Mountains. Hurricane defoliation was followed by heavy flowering in 1990, a year of reduced branch elongation and annual xylem ring width, and was associated with maximum vessel lumen area, as was flowering in 1989, prior to the hurricane. Hurricane Hugo provided a perturbation that, through its elicited stress response, allowed for the demonstration of the interplay between flowering, branching, structural growth of xylem, and xylem function.