Liana loads and their association with Bertholletia excelsa fruit and nut production, diameter growth and crown attributes

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Journal of Tropical Ecology


We investigated the association between lianas and Bertholletia excelsa (Brazil nut), a long-lived, emergent tree of significant ecological and economic importance in Amazonia. Our objectives were: (1) to determine the relationship between crown liana load and liana number, basal area, and origin in relation to the B. excelsa host; and (2) to determine the relationship between liana load and B. excelsa fruit and nut production, diameter growth, and crown form, position and area. One hundred and forty trees ([greater-than-or-equal]50 cm dbh) were selected with representatives of 10 diameter classes and four liana load categories. To quantify fruit and nut production, fruit counts and nut fresh weights per tree were measured in 2002 and 2003, and annual diameter growth was quantified using dendrometer bands. Trees with lianas produced significantly fewer fruits and had reduced nut fresh weights than liana-free trees. Trees with the most extensive liana loads (>75% crown coverage) were 10.2 times more likely to have crown forms categorized as less than half-crowns or few branches than trees with reduced liana loads. No statistically significant relationship was found between liana load and tree diameter growth. Results suggest that liana cutting might increase B. excelsa fecundity and commercial nut yields.