Seedling success determinants and predators of a dominant neo-tropical tree, Pentaclethra macroloba

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Pentaclethra macroloba is the most abundant tropical tree within Central America. Correlating with a recent movement to encourage the growth and propagation of native tree species with Costa Rica, several past studies have examined the effects of monoculture and polyculture cultivation of the tree. To determine influences of seedling success rates, 60 seedlings were followed for 9 weeks at the La Selva Biological Station in the Sarapiqui region of Costa Rica. Herbivores of the plant were also catalogued to determine the breath of predation on the species. Extra-floral nectary and ant relationships were also investigated, with limited success, but did bring to light a unique lycaenid interaction that should be pursued further. Finally, leaf expansion, production and desiccation, light environments, growth, and initial diameters of the plants were compared to determine whether one or several could accurately predict survival or elevated growth of a seedling. While leaf growth and production, height, and diameter all pointed towards positive predictions for success rate, there was no statistically significant difference for seedlings in different light gap environments. Future studies on P. macroloba should investigate the possibility that the initial condition of the plant?s cotyledons play a larger role than previously believed.


Beth Braker




Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Grant

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