Life history trade-offs in tropical trees and lianas

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It has been hypothesized that tropical trees partition forest light environments through a life history trade-off between juvenile growth and survival; however, the generality of this trade-off across life stages and functional groups has been questioned. We quantified trade-offs between growth and survival for trees and lianas on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama using first-year seedlings of 22 liana and 31 tree species and saplings (10 mm < dbh < 39 mm) of 30 tree species. Lianas showed trade-offs similar to those of trees, with both groups exhibiting broadly overlapping ranges in survival and relative growth rates as seedlings. Life history strategies at the seedling stage were highly correlated with those at the sapling stage among tree species, with all species showing an increase in survival with size. Only one of 30 tree species demonstrated a statistically significant ontogenetic shift, having a relatively lower survival rate at the sapling stage than expected. Our results indicate that similar life history trade-offs apply across two functional groups (lianas and trees), and that life history strategies are largely conserved across seedling and sapling life-stages for most tropical tree species.

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