Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 163–172 | Cite as

Canopy asymmetry in solitary Diphysa americana trees: wind and landscape on the Mexican coast

  • Mayitza Ramírez-PineroEmail author
  • Andrés Lira-Noriega
  • Sergio Guevara


On the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Diphysa americana is one of the first species to colonize coastal dunes and it is very common to find this species as isolated trees in abandoned sites that were deforested for agricultural purposes. Different species of frugivorous birds perch in these trees, dropping fruit and seeds in their shade. This species, constantly exposed to intense winds from the north, favors and has a selective effect on the establishment of species from the seasonal dry forest beneath its canopy. In this study we evaluated the direction of prevailing wind and its relationship to canopy shape (thigmotropism). We also evaluated differences in the abundance and richness of the plants that establish in the shade of D. americana by comparing trees exposed and not exposed (control) to the prevailing winds. The results indicate that the prevailing winds come from the north and that D. americana is sensitive to both wind strength and direction (F(3) = 13.43, P < 0.001). Its canopy stretches towards the south, where we find greater plant cover (F(3) = 29.61 P < 0.001) and a different species composition compared with the cover to the north. Canopy asymmetry results in differences in the abundance and composition of the species below, and this may have consequences to the process of succession. D. americana trees contribute to the regeneration and conservation of seasonal forest on the coast of central Veracruz, Mexico.


Thigmotropism Nucleation Regeneration Conservation Seasonally dry tropical Forest 



We are grateful to Gabriela García Esqueda for lending us her camera to take the photographs, David Díaz Romero for his help identifying the plants in the field, Vinicio Sosa Fernández for assistance with the statistical analyses, Martha Bonilla, Javier Álvarez, Miguel Martínez-Ramos, and Graciela Sánchez for their comments on the manuscript. We thank Bianca Delfosse for her careful translation of the text from the original in Spanish. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Centro de Investigaciones Costeras La Mancha CICOLMA for always providing support in the field, Pronatura Veracruz A. C, and David Díaz Romero for allowing us to work on his land. M.R.-P. was supported by a scholarship from Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT #233722). We thank the reviewers for their comments that helped to improve the quality of the manuscript. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11852_2018_648_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (26 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mayitza Ramírez-Pinero
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrés Lira-Noriega
    • 2
  • Sergio Guevara
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ecología A.C., Red de Ecología FuncionalXalapaMexico
  2. 2.CONACYT Research Fellow, Instituto de Ecología A.C., Red de Estudios Moleculares AvanzadosXalapaMexico

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