Effect of liana cutting on water potential and growth of adult Senna multijuga (Caesalpinioideae) trees in a Bolivian tropical forest

D. R. Pérez-Salicrup*, M. G. Barker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Lianas, or woody climbing plants, are a major constituent of seasonally dry tropical forests, and are thought to impact negatively their host trees. In this study we evaluated whether liana presence was associated with reduced leaf water potentials and growth in adult Senna multijuga trees during the dry season in a lowland Bolivian forest. We used leaf water potentials in trees as a first approach to assess trees' water status, under the assumption that leaf water potentials become more negative when water losses (via transpiration) exceed gains (by uptake). We measured relative growth in girth at 1.5 m height (gbh) to quantify tree growth. At the beginning of the 1996 dry season (early June), we selected 20 S. multijuga trees 10-20 cm dbh, and measured their gbh. We also recorded pre-dawn and mid-day leaf water potentials in these trees. In ten experimental trees all lianas were then cut, while the remaining trees were used as controls. Pre-dawn and mid-day water potentials were re-measured 1 day after liana-cutting, and then every week in all trees for 1 month and then at 3 and 5 months, until the beginning of the next rainy season (November); gbh was measured again in July 1997 to estimate relative growth rate. Liana removal was associated with less negative pre-dawn (-0.3 vs -0.4 MPa) and mid-day (-0.5 vs -0.7 MPa) water potentials in trees during the dry season. This difference appeared as early as 1 day after cutting, and disappeared once the rainy season began. Liana-cut trees grew more (0.4 mm/mm year) than liana-uncut trees (0.2 mm/mm year). These findings suggest that lianas may interfere with water availability to these trees during the dry season, and may also hinder tree growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-475
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements This research was possible thanks to a grant from BOLFOR, a joint project of the Bolivian government and US-AID, aimed at improving forest management operations. Sigma-Xi and the Compton Foundation provided additional funding. Michelle Pinard provided intellectual insight and logistical support while in Bolivia. We also wish to thank Francis E. Putz, Victoria L. Sork, Stephen S. Mulkey, and their laboratory groups at the University of Florida and University of Missouri-St. Louis for their support. We also thank the careful readership and thoughtful comments of Robin L. Chazdon and N. Michelle Holbrook, which greatly enhanced the quality of this manuscript. This study was part of D.R.P-S.’s PhD. work, which was funded by a Fulbright-Conacyt doctoral scholarship (Conacyt reg. no. 80215).


  • Bolivia
  • Growth
  • Lianas
  • Senna multijuga
  • Water availability


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of liana cutting on water potential and growth of adult Senna multijuga (Caesalpinioideae) trees in a Bolivian tropical forest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this