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Demography of Machaerium cuspidatum, a shade-tolerant neotropical liana

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2004

Jacob Nabe-Nielsen
Department of Systematic Botany, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark Present address: The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark. Email:


The population dynamics of the liana Machaerium cuspidatum (Fabaceae) were studied in an Amazonian forest in Ecuador using a stage-classified matrix model. Growth, mortality and number of new seedlings were recorded over two 1.5-y periods in eight 20 × 250-m transects. The population growth rate (λ) was 1.032, which was significantly higher than 1. The dynamics of the species were most influenced by survival of large plants, which is typical for slow-growing woody species. λ varied little among years or transects in spite of the high seedling production in one period. The importance of canopy openness and crown height for population growth was studied using bootstraps on λ for different subsets of the whole population. The results suggest that the population growth rate was lower in tall forest (height > 10 m) than in the population in general. The population growth rates in areas with shaded understorey and in low forest (≤ 20 m) were the same as for the whole population. A life table response experiment (LTRE) revealed that the lower λ in tall forest resulted from lower growth and survival of large plants in tall forest. These results indicate that the species is shade-tolerant but that it is sensitive to variations in forest dynamics. The dominance of the species and the increasing population size suggest that the forest has had a low disturbance rate for a long time.

Research Article
2004 Cambridge University Press

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