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Students Study Clonal Rainforest Tree in Belize

Coccoloba belizensis outwits a strangler fig by generating new sprouts outside the main stem that is being strangled! Basal sprouts arise from a lignotuber that continually generates new ramets over time allowing the clone to expand outward in a radial fashion. It is unlikely that the fig will ever be able to kill the entire Coccoloba clone. The power of clonality!

Molly Mueller, Annie Corley and Levi Trumbore studied the importance of seedling establishment to population persistence in Coccoloba at Las Cuevas Research Station in the Chiquibul Rainforest of Belize last month in my Rainforests and Coral Reefs course.

Molly Mueller with giant Coccoloba leaf. Molly is interested in joining our lab next year to work on the spatial genetic structure of Coccoloba populations.

Annie Corley showing that Coccoloba also produces root sprouts in addition to basal sprouts.

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Jonathan P. Evans

Spencer Hall 153



Plant Ecology & Conservation Lab

Department of Biology

University of the South

735 University Avenue

Sewanee, TN 37383

Sewanee Herbarium

Spencer Hall 171