The fruiting, flowering, and leaf set pattern influence many aspects of tropical forest communities. A variety of factors have been proposed to drive these phenological patterns including abiotic factors (e.g. climate variables), and biotic factors (e.g. seed disperser and predator behaviour). This paper looks at a 16+ year dataset of tree phenology in Kibale National Park, Uganda and discusses the findings considering patterns of climate change.
We quantified monthly fruiting for 185 months from 326 trees from 43 species and evaluated these patterns in relation to solar radiance, rainfall, and minimum and maximum monthly temperature. Annual fruiting varied over 3.8-fold and was associated with the proportion of fruiting occurring in the peak fruiting period. Regression modeling of annual fruiting revealed that solar radiance was the strongest predictor of fruiting. Solar radiance is likely strongly influenced by cloud cover which will be altered by climate change. Evaluating our findings to those presented in the literature clearly indicate that to evaluate the interaction among abiotic factors influencing phenological patterns and thus to predict future effects of climate change, more phenological data sets that are a decade or longer are needed.