High-resolution time series of vessel density in Kenyan mangrove trees reveal a link with climate


Author for correspondence: A. Verheyden Tel: +32 2769 56 12 Fax: +32 2767 02 42 Email: anouk.verheyden@africamuseum.be


  • • Tropical trees are often excluded from dendrochronological investigations because of a lack of distinct growth ring boundaries, causing a gap in paleoclimate reconstructions from tropical regions.
  • • The potential use of time series of vessel features (density, diameter, surface area and hydraulic conductivity) combined with spectral analysis as a proxy for environmental conditions in the mangrove Rhizophora mucronata was investigated.
  • • Intra-annual differences in the vessel features revealed a trade-off between hydraulic efficiency (large vessels) during the rainy season and hydraulic safety (small, more numerous vessels) during the dry season. In addition to the earlywood–latewood variations, a semiannual signal was discovered in the vessel density and diameters after Fourier transformation.
  • • The similarity in the Fourier spectra of the vessel features and the climate data, in particular mean relative humidity and precipitation, provides strong evidence for a climatic driving force for the intra-annual variability of the vessel features. The high-resolution approach used in this study, in combination with spectral analysis, may have great potential for the study of climate variability in tropical regions.