Liana-host tree associations in a subtropical montane forest of north-western Argentina

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Journal of Tropical Ecology


In a subtropical montane forest of north-western Argentina, we analysed the effect of crown illumination, trunk diameter, foliar phenology and tree species identity as determinants of liana-host tree associations, as well as the spatial pattern of liana abundance in a 6-ha permanent plot. Canopy tree composition is dominated by Blepharocalyx salicifolius, Cinnamomum porphyrium and Pisonia ambigua. We recorded 2346 liana individuals ‚â•2 cm and 2320 trees ‚â•10 cm dbh. Sixty-five percent of the trees hosted at least one liana stem. Large and well-lit trees were more likely to support lianas and supported more liana abundance than small and shaded trees. Yet, when trees were standardized by their size (liana basal area:tree basal area ratio), lianas were more abundant in smaller and less-exposed trees. Foliar phenology and tree species identity showed no association with the frequency of liana colonization and their abundance. Overall, tree features played a minor or even neutral role in structuring the liana community within this forest. Instead, lianas showed a positive autocorrelation at spatial scales tip to 40 m. This suggests that lianas might be mostly structured by light- and dispersal-related factors such as those involving canopy access or canopy disturbances, with a negligible effect of host species identity and foliar phenology.