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Open AccessArticle

Stem Decay in Live Trees: Heartwood Hollows and Termites in Five Timber Species in Eastern Amazonia

Instituto Latino-Americano de Economia, Sociedade e Política, Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana, Av. Tancredo Neves, 6731, Foz do Iguaçu 85867-900, Brazil
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Av. André Araújo 2936, Manaus 69011-970, Brazil
Department of Biology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 118526, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(10), 1087;
Received: 19 September 2020 / Revised: 7 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
Research Highlights: Tree size and wood characteristics influenced the susceptibility of five Amazonian timber tree species to heartwood decay and colonization by termites. Termites occurred in the heartwoods of 43% of the trees, with Coptotermes testaceus the most abundant species. Background and Objectives: Hollows and rotten cores in the stems of living trees have ecological and economic impacts in forests managed for timber. The decision on whether to cut or maintain hollow trees in such forests must account for the susceptibility of different tree species to decay. We investigated tree and wood characteristics of living trees of five commercial timber species in the eastern Amazon that influenced the likelihood of heartwood decay and the occurrence of termite nests inside the rotten cores. Materials and Methods: We used Pearson’s correlations and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to explore relationships among tree basal area and hollow area. We used principal components analysis (PCA) to analyze the variation of wood anatomical traits, followed by a linear regression to explore the relationships between PCA scores, and heartwood hollow area. We used a logistic model to investigate if the probability the occurrence of colonies of C. testaceus inside tree cores varied with tree and species characteristics. Results: Heartwood hollow areas increased with stem basal area. Larger hollows were more likely to occur in species with higher vessel and ray densities, and smaller diameter vessels. Termites occurred in the hollows of 43% of the trees sampled, with C. testaceus the most common (76%). The probability of encountering termite nests of C. testaceus varied among tree species and was positively related to wood density. Conclusions: This study shows that given the increased likelihood of stem hollows and rotten cores in large trees, tree selection criteria in managed tropical forests should include maximum cutting sizes that vary with the susceptibility of different tree species to stem decay. View Full-Text
Keywords: heartrot; hollow trees; reduced-impact logging; tropical timber; wood anatomy; Coptotermes heartrot; hollow trees; reduced-impact logging; tropical timber; wood anatomy; Coptotermes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Eleuterio, A.A.; Jesus, M.A.; Putz, F.E. Stem Decay in Live Trees: Heartwood Hollows and Termites in Five Timber Species in Eastern Amazonia. Forests 2020, 11, 1087.

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