Ecology and management of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) in the Chimanes Forest, Beni, Bolivia

R. E. Gullison, S. N. Panfil, J. J. Strouse, S. P. Hubbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) regeneration in areas of erosion on high terraces and in forest killed by flooding and deposition of alluvial sediments in the Chimanes Forest, Bolivia. These hydrological disturbances are patchy, and only one of five stands of mahogany that we inventoried was regenerating. MAhogany survives these disturbances significantly better than the common tree species. The long time between disturbances appears to favour late maturation. Mahogany trees allocate little photosynthates to reproduction until they are very large emergents, at least 80 cm in diameter. The episodic nature of the regeneration sites means that mahogany stands are composed of one or a few cohorts, which are vulnerable to overharvesting, particularly with the current use of minimum cutting diameter to regulate harvest. The delayed onset of fecundity means that the small trees that escape harvest are not very fecund, resulting in minimal seed input to logged. Only 7 9% of the gaps created by logging contain natural regeneration after 20 + yr. A successful management plan for mahogany would entail a monocyclic harvest, with a rotation age of 100 + years, the estimated time that it takes for tree to achieve commercial size in natural forest. Since the number of seed trees that will be left is small, they should be concentrated in sites that are likely to be conductive to natural regeneration, such as near rivers and flood damaged forest. Seed production will be maximized for a given basal area (opportunity cost to loggers) if trees c. 110 cm dbh are selected as seed trees. The mahogany stocks in the Chimanes Forest are nearly exhausted, but the findings of this study could be used to help rebuild the mahogany populations, or to design managerial plans for the commercial species that have similar ecologies to mahogany.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-34
Number of pages26
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon
  • conservation
  • demography
  • deposition
  • fecundity
  • flood
  • growth
  • life history
  • sustainable
  • tropical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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