Tropical dendrochronology applied to invasive tree species in the Brazilian Atlantic forest.
The Atlantic Forest is one of the largest and most biodiverse rainforests of South America but anthropogenic activities are drastically changing these landscapes. The invasion of alien or exotic species is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. There are few studies of invasive species in tropical Brazilian ecosystems. This research examines growth and ecological aspects of Syzygium cumini and Clitoria fairchildiana, two invasive tree species in the Pedra Branca State Park, an Atlantic Forest remnant in southeastern Brazil. Both species were successfully dated, indicating an average age of 58 and 31 years, respectively. A positive relationship between growth and precipitation of the previous growing season suggests an ecological adaptive strategy, which could be facilitating their invasion into the environment. Cumulative growth diameter curves indicate slow and fast growth rates for S. cumini and C. fairchildiana, respectively. Growth release episodes detected in the tree rings indicate increased anthropogenic disturbances over the last 50 years.