Density and distance-to-adult effects of a canker disease of trees in a moist tropical forest
We compared the spatial distribution of stem cankers on the canopy tree Ocotea whitei (Lauraceae) in a 20-ha plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, with spatial and temporal patterns of mortality in this host over the previous decade. The cankers occur both on adult and juvenile individuals, although juveniles are much more likely the adults to show symptoms. Disease incidence is host-density dependent, and both the presence of the disease and host mortality are more likely close to than far from a conspecific adult, which resulted in a net spatial shift of the juvenile population away from conspecific adults through time. Disease incidence is lower than expected among juveniles of O. whitei growing near to adults of the non-susceptible canopy tree Beilschmiedia pendula. The coincidence of spatial patterns of canker incidence and host mortality suggest a role for the disease in regulating host spatial distribution, in agreement with predictions of the Janzen-Connell hypothesis.