Rates of change in tree communities of secondary Neotropical forests following major disturbances

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Robin L ChazdonBryan Finegan

Abstract

Rates of change in tree communities following major disturbances are determined by a complex set of interactions between local site factors, landscape history and structure, regional species pools and species life histories. Our analysis focuses on vegetation change following abandonment of agricultural fields or pastures, as this is the most extensive form of major disturbance in Neotropical forests. We consider five tree community attributes: stem density, basal area, species density, species richness and species composition. We describe two case studies, in northeastern Costa Rica and Chiapas, Mexico, where both chronosequence and annual tree dynamics studies are being applied. These case studies show that the rates of change in tree communities often deviate from chronosequence trends. With respect to tree species composition, sites of different ages differ more than a single site followed over time through the same age range. Dynamic changes in basal area within stands, on the other hand, generally followed chronosequence trends. Basal area accumulation was more linked with tree growth rates than with net changes in tree density due to recruitment and mortality. Stem turnover rates were poor predictors of species turnover ...Continue Reading

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Citations

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