Phylogeny, fruit traits, and ecological correlates of fruiting phenology in a Neotropical dry forest
In tropical dry forests, a high interspecific variation in the strategies of fruiting phenology has been documented. Therefore, phenological responses may be mediated by influence of environmental variables, functional plant attributes or phylogenetic inertia. During 2 years, we recorded the fruiting phenology of 151 species belonging to 5 different growth forms of a Neotropical dry forest in Mexico. We evaluated the relationships between fruiting phenology, abiotic factors (precipitation, temperature, day-length) and functional attributes (growth form, dispersal syndrome, size and time for fruit development) using phylogenetic least squares models (PGLS). More species had ripe fruits during the dry season (92%) than during rainy months and dispersed their seeds by autochory and endozoochory. We found that fruit development time was positively correlated with fruit size and together the morphological fruit traits (size and dispersal syndrome) showed an important relationship with the growth form, but with a strong phylogenetic signal. Environmental seasonality had a strong influence on fruit ripening time, without a relevant association to the phylogeny of plant species. However, the phenological response to the environment (rainfall and day-length) at the community level was mediated by growth form. In woody species, we documented a high interspecific fruiting variation linked with the different dispersal syndromes. In herbaceous species, fruiting phenology is a trait restricted by the duration of their life cycle by rainfall seasonality, which in turn might have selected some traits (e.g., dry fruit, presence of spines, explosive dehiscence) for maximizing seed dispersal during the dry season.
KeywordsDispersal syndrome Fruit size Fruit development Growth form Phylogenetic signal
The first author thanks the Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) for the formation received during the course of the doctoral studies. This study is part of the doctoral research of the first author. J. Cortés-Flores also thanks to Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) for the scholarship for graduate studies. This research was supported by the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica (PAPIIT) of UNAM, as a part of the Project IN207512 (Fenología de especies arbóreas del bosque tropical caducifolio en la Depresión del Balsas, Michoacán). Two anonymous reviewers give us valuable suggestions and comments to improve this manuscript.
Author contribution statement
JCF and GIM originally formulated the idea and developed methodology, JCF, GCT and GIM conducted fieldwork, EA, GCT, LAUG developed the data analysis, EA, AGR, JCF performed statistical analyses, JCF and AGR developed phylogenetic analysis, JCF, GIM, AGR wrote the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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