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Age, Growth and Death of a National Icon: The Historic Chapman Baobab of Botswana

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Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Babeş-Bolyai University, 11 Arany Janos, RO-400028 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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iThemba LABS, Private Bag 11, WITS 2050, South Africa
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Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield 0028, South Africa
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Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babeş-Bolyai University, 44 Republicii, RO-400015 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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Tau Consultants(Pty) Ltd., P/Bag 83, Maun, Botswana
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NOSAMS Facility, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(11), 983; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10110983
Received: 6 October 2019 / Accepted: 2 November 2019 / Published: 5 November 2019
The year 2016 witnessed the fall of a symbol of the botanical world: the historic Chapman baobab of Botswana. This article presents the results of our investigation of the standing and fallen tree. The Chapman baobab had an open ring-shaped structure composed of six partially fused stems. Several wood samples collected from the stems prior and after their collapse were analysed by using radiocarbon dating. The radiocarbon date of the oldest sample was 1381 ± 22 BP, which corresponds to a calibrated age of 1345 (+10, −15) calendar years. The dating results show that the six stems of the Chapman baobab belonged to three different generations, which were 1350–1400, 800–1000 and 500–600 years old. The growth rate variation of the largest and oldest stem is presented and correlated with the climate evolution in the area over the past 1000 years. The factors that determined the sudden fall and death of the Chapman baobab are also presented and discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Adansonia digitata L.; tropical trees; age determination; AMS radiocarbon dating; growth rate; multiple stems Adansonia digitata L.; tropical trees; age determination; AMS radiocarbon dating; growth rate; multiple stems
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Patrut, A.; Woodborne, S.; Patrut, R.T.; Hall, G.; Rakosy, L.; Winterbach, C.; von Reden, K.F. Age, Growth and Death of a National Icon: The Historic Chapman Baobab of Botswana. Forests 2019, 10, 983.

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