Ramet proliferation by longitudinal splitting in the Gabonese rain forest liana Dalhousiea africana S. Moore (Papilionaceae)
Growth strategies of clonal palms were studied in old-growth tropical rainforest in Yasunv? Amazonian Ecuador. Genet structure clonal and sexual fecundity and light availability were investigated for 188 genets totalling 1256 ramets and 10 species. Negative relationships between risk of stem bending and stem diameter and between stem diameter and number of large ramets per genet were found. Recruitment of thick-stemmed species occurred in better-lit microsites than where the smaller species occurred. The three most common species were studied in more detail. Clonal and sexual fecundity were only related to light availability in one species each. No general trade-off between sexual and clonal reproduction was found. Sexual fecundity was related to size in all three species while clonal fecundity was so only in one species. Overall the results suggest that light availability poses a strong constraint on the evolution of growth strategies in clonal understorey palms while the resource cost of sexual reproduction is not high enough to result in a general trade-off between sexual and clonal reproduction. It is also concluded that in understorey palms clonal growth is more a growth strategy than a dispersion-propagation strategy.