Fine-scale variation in topography and seasonality determine radial growth of an endangered tree in Brazilian Atlantic forest

Vanessa Pontara*, Marcelo L. Bueno, Leticia E. Garcia, Ary T. Oliveira-Filho, Toby R. Pennington, David F R P Burslem, José P. Lemos-Filho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: We use dendroecological methods to test the hypothesis that variation in topographic position is related to radial growth and phenology for individuals of the endangered tropical tree Dalbergia nigra under uniform conditions of climate and irradiance, and to examine effects of seasonality on plant phenology and growth periodicity. Methods: Dendrometer-based measurements of stem diameter change over 26 months and local measurements of soil nutrient and water availability were compared for 24 individuals of D. nigra distributed equally between summit and valley positions within a topographically heterogeneous fragment of Atlantic Forest in southeastern Brazil. Results: Soil water and nutrient availability, and cumulative radial growth, were greater for trees in valley than summit positions. Monthly diameter increment was seasonal and positively related to monthly rainfall. D. nigra was seasonal in all phenophases, regardless of topographic position, and there were no differences in the frequency, timing or intensity of phenophases among topographic positions. Conclusions: We conclude that low soil nutrient and/or moisture availability reduce radial growth of D. nigra individuals growing in summit positions, while trees growing in valleys exhibit faster annual growth. Vegetative phenology is unaffected by fine-scale variation in topography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-128
Number of pages14
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date15 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

The Instituto Estadual de Florestas (IEF-MG) provided research facilities for the fieldwork. Coordenacão de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the scholarship (0253/12-0). The Marcelo L. Bueno thanks CNPq for Postdoctoral scholarship in UFMG (151002/2014-2). We also thank the Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) and the Pro-reitoria de Pesquisa da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (PrPq- UFMG) for financial support for this research.


  • Dalbergia nigra
  • Dendroecology
  • Phenology
  • Seasonal drought
  • Soil fertility
  • Soil water


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