Determination of minimal age of five species of Chusquea bamboos through rhizome analysis as a tool to predict the flowering in southern Chile

Leonardo Tagle, Roberto Murúa*, Mireya Briones, Rene Montalba, Xavier Lambin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Synchronous flowering and subsequent drying up of bamboos of the genus Chusquea are important processes in the dynamics and structure of many forest ecosystems. In southern South America, bamboo flowering and subsequent mast seeding trigger rodent outbreaks associated with zoonotic diseases. Predicting future flowering events requires knowledge of the age of bamboo stands together with species-specific periodicity in flowering. We explored whether it is possible to predict the minimum age in bamboo plants based on the features of their rhizomes. We studied bamboo stands of age known by the local people in 15 sites in the coastal and Andes Mountains as well as in and the Central Valley of southern Chile (37° 48'- 43° 58' S, from 12 to 1047 m.a.s.l.). For 164 individual plants, of five South American Chusquea bamboo species (C. valdiviensis, C. uliginosa, C. culeou, C. montana, and C. macrostachya), we collected and characterized the number and shape of divisions of whole rhizomes. For all species sampled there was a tight linear relationship between plant age and the number of rhizome divisions or rhizomes, accounting for 11-99 % of variation. In order to overcome constraints caused by the limited number of age cohorts available for individual species and to allow for prediction over a wider range of age, we also fitted a common linear model to species with similar age-rhizome relationships. We provide calibration relationships that can be used for retrospectively estimating the date of last flowering over large areas where bamboos form part of the understory and for predicting the future flowering events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalRevista Chilena de Historia Natural
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This work was funded by a The Wellcome Trust/ Grant 070461 to Xavier Lambin and Roberto Murúa. We thank the many park rangers and local farmers who kindly informed us of the date of bamboo flowering in their area and of the age of the specific plants we sampled. We are also grateful to Pedro Muñoz, San Martin park keeper for his assistance in field work and Lautaro Bahamondes for the illustration. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural has a publishing policy by which full articles are available for free in line up with the Wellcome Trust Grant procedures.


  • Age Determination
  • Bamboo
  • Chusquea Spp.
  • Hanta
  • Rhizome.
  • Seed Masting


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