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The Growth Stop Phenomenon Of Baobabs (Adansonia Spp.) Identified By Radiocarbon Dating

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 December 2016

Adrian Patrut*
Affiliation:
Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Chemistry, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Stephan Woodborne
Affiliation:
iThemba LABS, Private Bag 11, WITS 2050, South Africa
Karl F von Reden
Affiliation:
NOSAMS Facility, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA
Grant Hall
Affiliation:
Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Roxana T Patrut
Affiliation:
Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Laszlo Rakosy
Affiliation:
Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Pascal Danthu
Affiliation:
DP Forêt et Biodiversité, Antananarivo, Madagascar Cirad, UPR BSEF, Montpellier, France
Jean-Michel Leong Pock-Tsy
Affiliation:
Cirad, UPR BSEF, Montpellier, France
Daniel A Lowy
Affiliation:
Nova University, Alexandria Campus, Alexandria, VA, USA
Dragos Margineanu
Affiliation:
Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Chemistry, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
*
*Corresponding author. Email: apatrut@gmail.com.

Abstract

The article reports the growth stop phenomenon, which was documented only for baobabs, i.e. for trees belonging to the Adansonia genus. The identification of growth stop was enabled by radiocarbon dating, which allows a complex investigation of samples collected from the trunk/stems of baobabs. In several cases, the outermost rings of baobabs, which were close to the bark, were found to be old, with ages of several hundreds of years, instead of being very young. Dating results of samples collected from six baobabs are presented. For multistemmed baobabs, the growth stop may occur only for one or several stems. We identified four factors that may induce the growth stop: (i) stress determined by severe climate conditions, (ii) old age, (iii) the need to keep a stable internal architecture, and (iv) the collapse of stems that survive this trauma. Baobabs and their stems affected by growth stop may survive for several centuries, by continuing to produce leaves, flowers, and fruits. This phenomenon was associated with the capacity of baobabs to store large amounts of water in their trunks/stems in the rainy season. This reservoir of water is used during the dry season and allows the trees to survive prolonged drought periods.

Type
14C as a Tracer of Past or Present Continental Environment
Copyright
© 2016 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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Footnotes

Selected Papers from the 2015 Radiocarbon Conference, Dakar, Senegal, 16–20 November 2015

References

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