Phenology of palm trees in the Chocó Rainforest
Palms are one of the most abundant life forms found in tropical rainforest, and their fruits and flowers create large sources of food for many animals and insects. Arborescent palms provide food to indigenous people, birds, mammals, and insects in western Amazonia; therefore, understanding patterns of fruit production has both ecological and social implications. Observations and studies have led tropical ecologists to consider the temporal pattern of flowering as the result of coevolution with pollinators, seed predators, and most recently, climatic patterns. Climatic patterns are the focus of palm phenology research; however, subsequent studies have demonstrated the large variety and still widely unknown patterns of tropical plant phenology. Through analyzing fruiting and flowering data of 438 different palm trees from 15 different species from December 2020 to November 2021, a group of researchers and I found interesting patterns in phenology. We found that fruiting and flowering phenology, on average, differ in their degree of seasonality at the community level. Specifically, flowering production tends to be more seasonal than fruit production, with a greater average proportion of individuals bearing flowers between January and July among species. In contrast, the average proportion of individuals bearing mature fruits among species remained relatively constant throughout the year. There is a wide range of phenological patterns represented among species with some species showing distinct population peaks sequentially repeated across all and others showing a high proportion of individuals within certain phenophases all year. Overall, this research creates a basis of phenological patterns for fifteen different species representing the important flowering and fruiting plants of the Chocó Rainforest at the community level.