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Intraspecific variation in fruit production of African mahogany (Khaya anthotheca) in a semi-deciduous East African rainforest

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Okimat, JP; Babweteera, F; Ehbrecht, M

NA

2024

AFRICAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

62

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Restoring valuable timber trees is a necessary part of regaining many ecosystem services and products provided by degraded tropical forests. However, knowledge of seed production, a regeneration prerequisite, is limited for many tropical timber tree species. We studied the fruit production of African mahogany (Khaya anthotheca) in a semi-deciduous rainforest in East Africa, to provide information for ecological restoration programs. First, we quantified population variability and synchrony in fruit production. Then, we assessed how reproductive status and output were influenced by tree size, neighbourhood crowding, exchangeable cations, liana presence, and crown exposure. We found fruit production at the population level was weakly synchronised, with high interannual variability at the population and individual levels. Tree size determined reproductive status. Individual quantity of fruit produced increased with tree size but decreased with neighbourhood crowding. Our results indicate that K. anthotheca does not meet the criteria for mast fruiting. Our findings suggest that reproductive output in mahogany is regulated by tree size and competition. In addition to active protection, thinning to reduce competition around seed trees may boost fruit production at the individual tree level to provide seed for forest enrichment.

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