Consistency of demographic trade-offs across 13 (sub)tropical forests
- Organisms of all species must balance their allocation to growth, survival and recruitment. Among tree species, evolution has resulted in different life-history strategies for partitioning resources to these key demographic processes. Life-history strategies in tropical forests have often been shown to align along a trade-off between fast growth and high survival, that is, the well-known fast–slow continuum. In addition, an orthogonal trade-off has been proposed between tall stature—resulting from fast growth and high survival—and recruitment success, that is, a stature−recruitment trade-off. However, it is not clear whether these two independent dimensions of life-history variation structure tropical forests worldwide.
- We used data from 13 large-scale and long-term tropical forest monitoring plots in three continents to explore the principal trade-offs in annual growth, survival and recruitment as well as tree stature. These forests included relatively undisturbed forests as well as typhoon-disturbed forests. Life-history variation in 12 forests was structured by two orthogonal trade-offs, the growth−survival trade-off and the stature−recruitment trade-off. Pairwise Procrustes analysis revealed a high similarity of demographic relationships among forests. The small deviations were related to differences between African and Asian plots.
- Synthesis. The fast–slow continuum and tree stature are two independent dimensions structuring many, but not all tropical tree communities. Our discovery of the consistency of demographic trade-offs and life-history strategies across different forest types from three continents substantially improves our ability to predict tropical forest dynamics worldwide.
Journal:Journal of Ecology