Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Lianas explore the forest canopy more effectively than trees under drier conditions

Citation

Medina-Vega, José A.; Bongers, Frans; Sterck, Frank J. (2020), Lianas explore the forest canopy more effectively than trees under drier conditions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gb5mkkwnh

Abstract

1. Lianas rely on trees for support and access to high light positions in the forest canopy, but the implications for how lianas explore the canopy compared to trees remain understudied. We present an in situ forest canopy study to test the hypotheses that: (1) lianas favour leaf display over stem investment compared to trees and (2) lianas have greater potential to colonize non-shaded, high-light areas effectively than trees.

2. We compared branches of 16 liana species with those of 16 sympatric tree species in two lowland tropical forest canopies in Panama using 40-50 m tall canopy cranes. One forest was relatively dry and seasonal in rainfall and in associated light availability. The other forest was relatively wet and evergreen.

3. We observed that lianas were more efficient in leaf display over stem investment than trees, particularly in the forest with lower precipitation and stronger seasonality. Specifically, lianas had a lower LMA (leaf mass per unit leaf area), stronger apical dominance, higher stem slenderness and fewer leaf layers than trees. In the forest with higher precipitation and weaker seasonality, lianas also had stronger apical control and fewer leaf layers than trees, but both lianas and trees were relatively similar in LMA and stem slenderness.

4. Our study shows that lianas more effectively explore the canopy than trees under drier conditions, but much less so under wetter conditions. We argue that lianas display a functional strategy that allow them to better intercept light than the tree species in forests with low precipitation and strong seasonality, while they are constrained to display such strategy at high precipitation – light-limited – sites.

Methods

This dataset was collected throughout the study presented in the article : Lianas explore the forest canopy more effectively than trees under drier conditions.

Funding

Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Award: 824.14.006