Irregular droughts trigger mass flowering in aseasonal tropical forests in Asia

Shoko Sakai, Rhett D. Harrison, Kuniyasu Momose, Koichiro Kuraji, Hidetoshi Nagamasu, Tetsuzo Yasunari, Lucy Chong, Tohru Nakashizuka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    124 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    General flowering is a community-wide masting phenomenon, which is thus far documented only in aseasonal tropical forests in Asia. Although the canopy and emergent layers of forests in this region are dominated by species of a single family, Dipterocarpaceae, general flowering involves various plant groups. Studying proximate factors and estimating the flowering patterns of the past and future may aid our understanding of the ecological significance and evolutionary factors behind this phenomenon. Here we show that this phenomenon is most likely triggered by irregular droughts based on 10 years of observations. In the aseasonal forests of SE Asia, droughts tend to occur during transition periods from La Niña to El Niño, which results in an irregular 6-7-yr cycle involving a dry period with several droughts and a wet period without droughts. The magnitude of a flowering event also depends on the timing of droughts associated with the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) cycle, with the largest events occurring after an interval of several years with no flowering. Because most plant species can only reproduce successfully during large flowering events, changes in the ENSO cycle resulting from global warming, may have serious ramifications for forest regeneration in this region.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1134-1139
    Number of pages6
    JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
    Volume93
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006 Sep 12

    Keywords

    • Borneo
    • Dipterocarp forests
    • Lambir
    • Malaysia
    • Mass flowering
    • Masting
    • Phenology
    • Sarawak

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Genetics
    • Plant Science

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  • Cite this

    Sakai, S., Harrison, R. D., Momose, K., Kuraji, K., Nagamasu, H., Yasunari, T., Chong, L., & Nakashizuka, T. (2006). Irregular droughts trigger mass flowering in aseasonal tropical forests in Asia. American Journal of Botany, 93(8), 1134-1139. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.93.8.1134