Photos from the Field: Baldauf et al. 2014. Nontimber forest products in Brazil’s Cerrado

Cristina Baldauf, Alexsandra Salvador da Silva, Julia C. Sfair, Rosijânia Ferreira and Flavio Antonio Maës dos Santos. 2014. Harvesting Increases Reproductive Activity in Himatanthus drasticus (Mart.) Plumel (Apocynaceae), a Non-Timber Forest Product of the Brazilian Savanna. Biotropica. 46(3): 341–349.

The harvesting of non-timber forest products (NTFP) can influence the pattern of resource allocation in plants, affecting their growth, survival, and reproduction. However, only a small number of studies have addressed the impacts of NTFP harvesting on the reproductive phenology of the exploited species. The aim of this observational study was to assess the effects of harvesting and climatic variables on the reproductive phenology of Himatanthus drasticus, a highly exploited medicinal tree from the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado). We evaluated the effects of two different debarking levels (50 and 100%) in comparison to a control (no harvesting). We performed monthly counts of the number of buds, flowers in anthesis, unripe and ripe fruits in each sampled tree (intensity index), as well as the number of trees in each phenophase (activity index), over 2 yr. We used circular statistics tools to compare the effects of each treatment on flower and fruit production and to test whether the reproductive peaks were related to climatic variables. Both the activity and intensity indexes exhibited the same patterns; flower and fruit production were lower in the control, intermediate in the 50 percent debarking group and higher in the 100 percent debarking group. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of NTFP to demonstrate an increase in reproductive activity after several years of harvesting. All phenophases were positively correlated with higher temperature and precipitation, as it is common in the Cerrado.

Harvesting increases flower and fruit production in H. drasticus (Photo: C. Baldauf)

Harvesting increases flower and fruit production in H. drasticus (Photo: C. Baldauf)