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Lianas reduce tree growth, reproduction, and survival in tropical forests. Liana competition can be particularly intense in isolated forest fragments, where liana densities are high, and thus, host tree infestation is common. Furthermore, lianas appear to grow particularly well during seasonal drought, when they may compete particularly intensely with trees. Few studies, however, have experimentally quantified the seasonal effects of liana competition on multiple tree species in tropical forests. We used a liana removal experiment in a forest fragment in southeastern Brazil to test whether the effects of lianas on tree growth vary with season and tree species identity. We conducted monthly diameter measurements using dendrometer bands on 88 individuals of five tree species for 24 months. We found that lianas had a stronger negative effect on some tree species during the wet season compared to the dry season. Furthermore, lianas significantly reduced the diameter growth of two tree species but had no effect on the other three tree species. The strong negative effect of lianas on some trees, particularly during the wet season, indicates that the effect of lianas on trees varies both seasonally and with tree species identity.


Accepted version. Biotropica, Vol. 52, No. 5 (September 2020): 836-844. DOI. © 2020 Wiley. Used with permission.

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