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General flowering in the climax rain forests of South-east Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2009

S. Appanah
Forest Research Institute, Kepong, Selangor, West Malaysia.


The general flowering of lowland dipterocarp forests of South-east Asia is a unique phenomenon that occurs intermittently, sometimes many years apart, and may be widespread throughout the region or sporadic. During a general flowering a very large number of tree families, including the well-known Dipterocarpaceae, flower and fruit exceptionally heavily. The huge pulse of flowering is echoed by an apparent explosion in the number of pollinators, and this is further augmented by migration of pollinators from the forest fringes. The huge demand for pollinators seems to be solved among several dipterocarps through utilization of tiny, fast breeding, floral-feeding insects such as thrips and hoppers. Competition for pollinators is further reduced through development of sequential flowering among several groups of trees that share similar pollinators. The resulting massive general fruiting seems to contribute to a heightened level of faunal activity and numbers. This long-intervalled flowering and fruiting phenology which dominates these lowland dipterocarp forests may have partly contributed to the lowered animal biomass frequently alluded to when these forests are compared with neotropical forests.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1985

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