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Ann Bot. 2005 Aug;96(2):313-21. Epub 2005 Jun 8.

Sapling structure and regeneration strategy in 18 Shorea species co-occurring in a tropical rainforest.

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  • 1Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Hirano, Otsu 520-2113, Japan.



Inevitable trade-offs in structure may be a basis for differentiation in plant strategies. Juvenile trees in different functional groups are characterized by specific suites of structural traits such as crown architecture and biomass distribution. The relationship between juvenile tree structure and function was tested to find out if it is robust among functionally and taxonomically similar species of the genus Shorea that coexist sympatrically in a tropical rain forest in Borneo.


The sapling structures of 18 species were compared for standardized dry masses of 5 and 30 g. Pairwise simple correlation and multiple correlation patterns among structural traits of juveniles (0.1-1.5 m in height) of 18 Shorea species were examined using Pearson's correlation and principal component analysis (PCA), respectively. The correlation was then tested between the PCA results and three indices of shade tolerance: the net photosynthetic rate, the wood density of mature trees and seed size.


The structural variation in saplings of the genus Shorea was as large as that found in sets of species with much more diverse origins. The PCA showed that both crown architecture and allocation to leaves are major sources of variation in the structures of the 18 species investigated. Of these two axes, allocation to leaves was significantly correlated with wood density and showed a limited correlation with photosynthetic rate, whereas crown architecture was significantly correlated to seed size.


Overall, the results suggest that an allocation trade-off between leaves and other organs, which co-varied with wood density and to a certain extent with photosynthetic capacity, accounts for the difference in shade tolerance among congeneric, functionally similar species. In contrast, the relationship between the architecture and regeneration strategy differed from the pattern found between functional groups, and the function of crown architecture was ambiguous.

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