Reproductive phenology, life-forms and habitats of the Venezuelan Central Plain
American Journal of Botany
Reproductive phenology of 171 plant species belonging to 57 families of angiosperms was studied according to life-forms in four habitat types in a savanna-forest mosaic on the Venezuelan Central Plain. Flowering, unripe fruit, and mature fruit patterns were affected significantly according to life-forms and habitats respectively. Production of flowers, unripe fruits, and mature fruits showed marked seasonality for all habitats except for the forest. Flowering peaked during the rainy season, and fruiting peaked toward the end of the rainy season. The savanna and the disturbed area had similar proportions of species that flowered over the year. The percentage of species with unripe fruits produced throughout the year was more seasonal for the disturbed area than for the other habitats. Mature fruit patterns showed an increase during the late rainy season for the ecotone and savanna. A large number of herbaceous (annual and perennial) and liana species flowered during the wet season, and a smaller fraction flowered during the dry season; and trees, shrubs, and epiphytes increased flowering activity during the dry season. Unripe fruit patterns were similar to those of flowering for all life- forms, however, tree species were less seasonal. Mature fruit production by shrubs peaked in the period of maximum rainfall, while the peak for perennial herbs was in the late rainy season and the peak for annual herbs was during the transition between the rainy season and the dry season. The largest proportion of tree and liana species with ripe fruits occurred during the dry season. Differences among phenological patterns in habitats were caused mainly by life-forms and promote a wider distribution of reproductive events in habitats and overall community in the Venezuelan Central Plain.