Dendroecology in the tropics: A review

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Over the last decade the field of tropical dendroecology has developed rapidly and major achievements have been made. We reviewed the advances in three main themes within the field. First, long chronologies for tropical tree species were constructed which allowed climate reconstructions, revealed sources of climatic variation and clarified climate-growth relations. Other studies combined tree-ring data and stable isotope (13C and 18O) measurements to evaluate the response of tropical trees to climatic variation and changes. A second set of studies assessed long-term growth patterns of individual trees throughout their life. These studies enhanced the understanding of growth trajectories to the canopy, quantified autocorrelated tree growth and yielded new estimates of tree ages. Such studies were also used to reconstruct the disturbance history of tropical forests. The last set of studies applied tree-ring data to growth models. Tree-ring data can replace diameter measurements from research plots, provide additional information to construct population models, improve timber yield models and validate model output. Based on our review, we propose two main directions for future research. (1) An evaluation of the causes and consequences of growth variation within and among trees and their relation to environmental variation. Studies evaluating this directly contribute to improved understanding of tropical tree ecology. (2) The simultaneous measurement of widths and stable isotope fractions in tree rings offers the potential to study responses of trees to climatic change. Given the major role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle, knowing these responses is of high priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate-growth relations
  • Growth modelling
  • Long-term growth patterns
  • Tree age
  • Tree rings
  • Tropical forest dynamics

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