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Limited impact of irrigation on the phenology of Brachychiton megaphyllus: A deciduous shrub that flowers while leafless during the tropical dry season

Bate, Patricia J. and Franklin, Donald C. (2015). Limited impact of irrigation on the phenology of Brachychiton megaphyllus: A deciduous shrub that flowers while leafless during the tropical dry season. Journal of Tropical Ecology,31(5):459-467.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 81144320xPUB102
Title Limited impact of irrigation on the phenology of Brachychiton megaphyllus: A deciduous shrub that flowers while leafless during the tropical dry season
Author Bate, Patricia J.
Franklin, Donald C.
Journal Name Journal of Tropical Ecology
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 31
Issue Number 5
ISSN 0266-4674   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84945585360
Start Page 459
End Page 467
Total Pages 9
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract A suite of woody plants inhabiting the seasonally dry tropics flower while leafless during the dry season, raising intriguing questions about the role of moisture limitation in shaping their phenology. Brachychiton megaphyllus is one such species, a shrub of open forests and savannas in northern Australia. We documented leaf and reproductive phenology of 14 shrubs, and irrigated a further 15, to determine if soil moisture affected leafiness and reproductive activity. Brachychiton megaphyllus showed first flower buds shortly after the cessation of wet-season rains, and budded and flowered throughout the dry season. In some plants, leaf flush occurred prior to the first rains. Rates of fruit set and maturity were very low. Irrigation did not significantly influence leaf shoot or subsequent canopy development. Contrary to expectation, irrigation decreased the production of buds and flowers though it had no impact on the production of fruit, a response for which we suggest a number of hypotheses. Phenological responses to irrigation may have been limited because B. megaphyllus responds primarily to cues other than soil moisture and is buffered against seasonal drought by a large tap root. This suggests mechanisms by which flowering while leafless may occur in a range of species.
Keywords deciduousness
dry-season flowering
monsoonal tropics
plants
soil moisture
wet-dry tropics
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467415000358   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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