Tree recruitment is determined in part by the survivorship and growth of seedlings. Two seedling cohorts of the three most abundant caesalpiniaceous species forming groves at Korup, Cameroon, were followed from 1995/1997 to 2002, to investigate why Microberlinia bisulcata, the most abundant species, currently has very few recruits compared with Tetraberlinia korupensis and T. bifoliolata. Numbers of seedlings dying, and the heights and leaf numbers of survivors, were recorded on 30 occasions. Survivorship after 2.5 y was 30% for M. bisulcata and 59% for the similar Tetraberlinia spp. together. After 7 y the corresponding values were 4 and 21%. Growth of all species was slow for the first 4 y; but survivors of T. korupensis became 63% taller, as the other species stagnated, by 7 y. The poor recruitment of M. bisulcata was the result of its very low seedling survival. Within species, the tallest seedlings of M. bisulcata and T. bifoliolata, but medium-height ones of T. korupensis, survived longest. This was likely due to higher root allocation in T. korupensis. Seedling dynamics of M. bisulcata and T. korupensis over 7 y accorded well with relative abundances of adult trees; T. bifoliolata is predicted to recruit later.
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