Title

Dominance in the Canopy by Pentaclethra macroloba: A Genetic and Population Ecology Level Investigation

Authors

Helen Zukin

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Pentaclethra macroloba is a fast growing tropical canopy tree. P. macroloba’s characteristic shade-tolerance, low nutrient necessity, and fast growing capabilities allow it to flourish from Nicaragua to the Amazon Basin. In certain areas, such as the La Selva Biological Station, P. macroloba has emerged from reforestation efforts as the most dominate stem in the forest, averaging 60 trees per hectare. In most areas of the station, P. macroloba rely on beetle pollination for seedling reproduction. Where as in low land and inundated environments instead of producing seeds, P. macroloba heavily rely on vegetative sprouting to reproduce with .34 ratio of sprouts to stem. This phenomenon is largely due to high tree fall rates. Reliance on vegetative sprouting in low elevations leads to lower genetic variability when compared to genetic composition in higher elevations. Another reason to rely on vegetative sprouting is P. macrloba’s high mortality rates throughout the life stage of saplings. In high competition for resources, P. macroloba saplings are most limited by light availability despite its’ shade tolerance. In a populations study conducted throughout, overall plant and leaf production were evaluated for 232 P. macroloba saplings. Saplings located in poor nutrient upland soils produced a slightly higher average of new leaves.

Advisor

Elizabeth Braker

Department

bio

Support

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Education Program grant

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