Effects of light and soil flooding on the growth and photosynthesis of ramin (Gonystylus bancanus) seedlings in Malaysia

W.W.P. Jans, L. Dibor, C.C. Verwer, B. Kruijt, S. Tan, P.J. van der Meer

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We studied the ecophysiology of ramin (Gonystylus bancanus) seedlings in an experimental set up at the Forest Research Centre in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Ramin seedlings were grown on flooded and drained peat soil under 100, 76, 46 and 23% sunlight, thus simulating effects of different light conditions (canopy gap size) and drainage that occur in natural ramin populations. Seedling growth was highest in partial sunlight (76%) and reduced with reducing light levels. Aboveground productivity and fine root development were significantly higher in seedlings grown on flooded soil compared with those on drained soil. In contrast, investment in coarse root biomass was significantly higher in seedlings grown on drained soil. It appeared that the aboveground growth benefits in flooded conditions were the result of more advantageous conditions for allocation of carbon to leaves, thus enhancing overall relative growth rates through higher light interception rates despite lower photosynthetic capacity. The results of this experiment suggested that drainage of peat swamp forests would seriously hamper natural regeneration of ramin by limiting the growth of seedlings. It is also suggested that selective logging operations which produce medium-size canopy gaps improve ramin regeneration in hydrologically undisturbed mixed swamp forests
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
JournalJournal of Tropical Forest Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • rain-forest
  • tree seedlings
  • drought
  • responses
  • gaps

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