Forest Composition (forest + composition)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Effects of Climate Change and Shifts in Forest Composition on Forest Net Primary Production

Jyh-Min Chiang
Abstract Forests are dynamic in both structure and species composition, and these dynamics are strongly influenced by climate. However, the net effects of future tree species composition on net primary production (NPP) are not well understood. The objective of this work was to model the potential range shifts of tree species (DISTRIB Model) and predict their impacts on NPP (PnET-II Model) that will be associated with alterations in species composition. We selected four 200 × 200 km areas in Wisconsin, Maine, Arkansas, and the Ohio-West Virginia area, representing focal areas of potential species range shifts. PnET-II model simulations were carried out assuming that all forests achieved steady state, of which the species compositions were predicted by DISTRIB model with no migration limitation. The total NPP under the current climate ranged from 552 to 908 g C/m2 per year. The effects of potential species redistributions on NPP were moderate (,12% to +8%) compared with the influence of future climatic changes (,60% to +25%). The direction and magnitude of climate change effects on NPP were largely dependent on the degree of warming and water balance. Thus, the magnitude of future climate change can affect the feedback system between the atmosphere and biosphere. [source]

Blister rust and western forest biodiversity: ecology, values and outlook for white pines

FOREST PATHOLOGY, Issue 3-4 2010
D. F. Tomback
Summary Eight white pine species are widely distributed among the forests of western Canada and the United States. The different forest communities with these species contribute biodiversity to the western landscape. The trees themselves provide various ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat and watershed protection. White pine communities range in elevation from lower to upper treeline, in successional stage from seral to climax, and in stand type from krummholz to closed-canopy forest. Many white pine species are moderately to strongly fire-dependent for regeneration; several species are extreme stress tolerators and persistent on harsh sites. Among the white pines are the oldest-living trees, the world's largest pines, species dependent on birds for seed dispersal, species important for grizzly bear habitat and species of high commercial timber value. The principal threats to white pine populations are blister rust (Cronartium ribicola, pathogen), fire suppression, succession, mountain pine beetle and climate change. Severe population declines in several white pine species are attributed to losses caused by these factors acting either alone or together, and sometimes in concert with logging and other land-use changes. The importance and particular interactions of these threats vary by region and species. For example, many northern and western populations of whitebark pine are seriously declining from a combination of mountain pine beetle outbreaks and severe blister rust infestations. As whitebark pines provide many keystone services on high-elevation sites, their loss would impact forest composition and structure, succession, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Although there are serious challenges to science-based management and conservation (especially in remote American wilderness areas), prompt and effective intervention promoting regeneration of blister rust-resistant white pines could mitigate these severe impacts. [source]

Applying climatically associated species pools to the modelling of compositional change in tropical montane forests

GLOBAL ECOLOGY, Issue 2 2008
Duncan J. Golicher
ABSTRACT Aim, Predictive species distribution modelling is a useful tool for extracting the maximum amount of information from biological collections and floristic inventories. However, in many tropical regions records are only available from a small number of sites. This can limit the application of predictive modelling, particularly in the case of rare and endangered species. We aim to address this problem by developing a methodology for defining and mapping species pools associated with climatic variables in order to investigate potential species turnover and regional species loss under climate change scenarios combined with anthropogenic disturbance. Location, The study covered an area of 6800 km2 in the highlands of Chiapas, southern Mexico. Methods, We derived climatically associated species pools from floristic inventory data using multivariate analysis combined with spatially explicit discriminant analysis. We then produced predictive maps of the distribution of tree species pools using data derived from 451 inventory plots. After validating the predictive power of potential distributions against an independent historical data set consisting of 3105 botanical collections, we investigated potential changes in the distribution of tree species resulting from forest disturbance and climate change. Results, Two species pools, associated with moist and cool climatic conditions, were identified as being particularly threatened by both climate change and ongoing anthropogenic disturbance. A change in climate consistent with low-emission scenarios of general circulation models was shown to be sufficient to cause major changes in equilibrium forest composition within 50 years. The same species pools were also found to be suffering the fastest current rates of deforestation and internal forest disturbance. Disturbance and deforestation, in combination with climate change, threaten the regional distributions of five tree species listed as endangered by the IUCN. These include the endemic species Magnolia sharpii Miranda and Wimmeria montana Lundell. Eleven vulnerable species and 34 species requiring late successional conditions for their regeneration could also be threatened. Main conclusions, Climatically associated species pools can be derived from floristic inventory data available for tropical regions using methods based on multivariate analysis even when data limitations prevent effective application of individual species modelling. Potential consequences of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance on the species diversity of montane tropical forests in our study region are clearly demonstrated by the method. [source]

Using GIS to relate small mammal abundance and landscape structure at multiple spatial extents: the northern flying squirrel in Alberta, Canada

Summary 1It is common practice to evaluate the potential effects of management scenarios on animal populations using geographical information systems (GIS) that relate proximate landscape structure or general habitat types to indices of animal abundance. Implicit in this approach is that the animal population responds to landscape features at the spatial grain and extent represented in available digital map inventories. 2The northern flying squirrel Glaucomys sabrinus is of particular interest in North American forest management because it is known from the Pacific North-West as a habitat specialist, a keystone species of old-growth coniferous forest and an important disperser of hypogeous, mycorrhizal fungal spores. Using a GIS approach we tested whether the relative abundance of flying squirrel in northern Alberta, Canada, is related to old forest, conifer forest and relevant landscape features as quantified from management-based digital forest inventories. 3We related squirrel abundance, estimated through live trapping, to habitat type (forest composition: conifer, mixed-wood and deciduous) and landscape structure (stand height, stand age, stand heterogeneity and anthropogenic disturbance) at three spatial extents (50 m, 150 m and 300 m) around each site. 4Relative abundances of northern flying squirrel populations in northern and western Alberta were similar to those previously reported from other regions of North America. Capture rates were variable among sites, but showed no trends with respect to year or provincial natural region (foothills vs. boreal). 5Average flying squirrel abundance was similar in all habitats, with increased values within mixed-wood stands at large spatial extents (300 m) and within deciduous-dominated stands at smaller spatial extents (50 m). No relationship was found between squirrel abundance and conifer composition or stand age at any spatial extent. 6None of the landscape variables calculated from GIS forest inventories predicted squirrel abundance at the 50-m or 150-m spatial extents. However, at the 300-m spatial extent we found a negative, significant relationship between average stand height and squirrel abundance. 7Synthesis and applications. Boreal and foothill populations of northern flying squirrel in Canada appear unrelated to landscape composition at the relatively large spatial resolutions characteristic of resource inventory data commonly used for management and planning in these regions. Flying squirrel populations do not appear clearly associated with old-aged or conifer forests; rather, they appear as habitat generalists. This study suggests that northern, interior populations of northern flying squirrel are probably more related to stand-level components of forest structure, such as food, microclimate (e.g. moisture) and understorey complexity, variables not commonly available in large-scale digital map inventories. We conclude that the available digital habitat data potentially exclude relevant, spatially dependent information and could be used inappropriately for predicting the abundance of some species in management decision making. [source]

Simulating forest ecosystem response to climate warming incorporating spatial effects in north-eastern China

Hong S. He
Abstract Aim, Predictions of ecosystem responses to climate warming are often made using gap models, which are among the most effective tools for assessing the effects of climate change on forest composition and structure. Gap models do not generally account for broad-scale effects such as the spatial configuration of the simulated forest ecosystems, disturbance, and seed dispersal, which extend beyond the simulation plots and are important under changing climates. In this study we incorporate the broad-scale spatial effects (spatial configurations of the simulated forest ecosystems, seed dispersal and fire disturbance) in simulating forest responses to climate warming. We chose the Changbai Natural Reserve in China as our study area. Our aim is to reveal the spatial effects in simulating forest responses to climate warming and make new predictions by incorporating these effects in the Changbai Natural Reserve. Location, Changbai Natural Reserve, north-eastern China. Method, We used a coupled modelling approach that links a gap model with a spatially explicit landscape model. In our approach, the responses (establishment) of individual species to climate warming are simulated using a gap model (linkages) that has been utilized previously for making predictions in this region; and the spatial effects are simulated using a landscape model (LANDIS) that incorporates spatial configurations of the simulated forest ecosystems, seed dispersal and fire disturbance. We used the recent predictions of the Canadian Global Coupled Model (CGCM2) for the Changbai Mountain area (4.6 °C average annual temperature increase and little precipitation change). For the area encompassed by the simulation, we examined four major ecosystems distributed continuously from low to high elevations along the northern slope: hardwood forest, mixed Korean pine hardwood forest, spruce-fir forest, and sub-alpine forest. Results, The dominant effects of climate warming were evident on forest ecosystems in the low and high elevation areas, but not in the mid-elevation areas. This suggests that the forest ecosystems near the southern and northern ranges of their distributions will have the strongest response to climate warming. In the mid-elevation areas, environmental controls exerted the dominant influence on the dynamics of these forests (e.g. spruce-fir) and their resilience to climate warming was suggested by the fact that the fluctuations of species trajectories for these forests under the warming scenario paralleled those under the current climate scenario. Main conclusions, With the spatial effects incorporated, the disappearance of tree species in this region due to the climate warming would not be expected within the 300-year period covered by the simulation. Neither Korean pine nor spruce-fir was completely replaced by broadleaf species during the simulation period. Even for the sub-alpine forest, mountain birch did not become extinct under the climate warming scenario, although its occurrence was greatly reduced. However, the decreasing trends characterizing Korean pine, spruce, and fir indicate that in simulations beyond 300 years these species could eventually be replaced by broadleaf tree species. A complete forest transition would take much longer than the time periods predicted by the gap models. [source]

Spatial and temporal variation of fire regimes in a mixed conifer forest landscape, Southern Cascades, California, USA

R. Matthew Beaty
Aim In this study, we evaluated the fire-forest mosaic of a mixed conifer forest landscape by testing the hypothesis that pre-fire suppression fire regime parameters vary with species composition (tree species), and environment (i.e. slope aspect, slope position, elevation). Location Our study was conducted in the 1587 ha Cub Creek Research Natural Area (CCRNA), Lassen National Forest, CA, USA. Methods We quantified the return interval, seasonal occurrence, size, rotation period, and severity of fires using dendroecology. Results Slope aspect, potential soil moisture, forest composition, and fire regime parameters in our study area co-vary. Median composite and point fire return intervals (FRI) were longest on higher, cooler, more mesic, north-facing (NF) slopes covered with white fir (Abies concolor), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii),white fir, and red fir (A. magnifica),white fir forests, shortest on the dry, south-facing (SF) slopes covered with ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa),white fir forests and intermediate on west-facing slopes dominated by white fir,sugar pine (P. lambertiana),incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens) forests. The spatial pattern for length of fire rotation (FR) was the same as that for FRI. Fires in CCRNA mixed conifer forests occurred mainly (90%) in the dormant season. Size of burns in CCRNA mixed conifer forests were generally small (mean=106 ha), however, during certain drought years widespread fires burned across fuel breaks and spread throughout the watershed. Fire severity was mainly high on upper slopes, low on lower slopes and moderate and low severity on middle slopes. Patterns of fire severity also varied with slope aspect. Fire frequency decreased dramatically in CCRNA after 1905. Conclusions In CCRNA, fire regime parameters [e.g. FRI, fire extent, FR, fire severity] varied widely with species composition, slope aspect and slope position. There was also temporal variation in fire extent with the most widespread fires occurring during drought years. The important contributions of topography and climate to variation in the fire regime indicates that exogenous factors play a key role in shaping the fire-forest structure mosaic and that the fire-forest structure mosaic is more variable, less predictable and less stable than previously thought. Finally, some characteristics of the fire regime (i.e. fire severity, season of burn) in CCRNA are different than those described for other mixed conifer forests and this suggests that there are geographical differences in mixed conifer fire regimes along the Pacific slope. [source]

Infestation of trees by lianas in a tropical forest in Amazonian Peru

Geertje M.F. van der Heijden
Abstract Question: In Amazonian moist forest, four questions arose: 1. Do tree species differ in their susceptibility to lianas? 2. What host tree traits (branch-free bole height, growth rate, bark type, leaf length and adult stature) are correlated with the susceptibility of tree species to lianas infesting the trunk and the crown? 3. To what extent do spatial variables (proximity to liana-infested trees and the light environment of the tree crown) affect the likelihood of liana infestation? 4. Are spatial variables or tree traits relatively more important in influencing the susceptibility of trees to lianas? We address all questions separately for trunk and crown infestation. Location: Tambopata Nature Reserve, Peru. Methods: We collected information on liana infestation, tree morphological traits, growth, light-environment and position for 3675 trees in seven 1-ha permanent sample plots. We separated trunk from crown infestation and used correlation and logistic regression analyses for tree species and individual tree-level analyses, respectively. Results: Half of all trees were colonised by at least one liana. Of 41 relatively common dicot tree species, at least five have significantly greater and three significantly lower crown infestation rates than expected by chance. Trunk and crown infestation are influenced by different host traits , trunk infestation was only affected by bark type, while crown infestation is reduced when trees are fast-growing, tall, have low-density wood, long branch-free boles and long leaves. The likelihood of both trunk and crown infestation increases for trees growing in close proximity to another liana-infested tree, but is invariant with the light environment of tree crowns. Conclusion: Crown and trunk infestation have not been properly distinguished before; it is important to do so as the factors determining the different modes of infestation differ fundamentally. The association between crown infestation and tree traits suggests that increases in liana dominance in Amazonian forests could cause changes in forest composition, including favouring faster growing tree species with low density wood, potentially reducing the carbon stored by mature forests. [source]

Environment, disturbance history and rain forest composition across the islands of Tonga, Western Polynesia

Janet Franklin
Abstract Questions: How do forest types differ in their distinctiveness among islands in relation to environmental and anthropogenic disturbance gradients? Are biogeographic factors also involved? Location: Tonga, ca. 170 oceanic islands totalling 700 km2 spread across 8° of latitude in Western Polynesia. Method Relative basal area was analysed for 134 species of woody plants in 187 plots. We used clustering, indirect gradient analysis, and indicator species analysis to identify continuous and discontinuous variation in species composition across geographical, environmental and disturbance gradients. Partial DCA related environmental to compositional gradients for each major forest type after accounting for locality. CCA and partial CCA partitioned observed compositional variation into components explained by environment/disturbance, locality and covariation between them. Results: Differences among forest types are related to environment and degree of anthropogenic disturbance. After accounting for inter-island differences, compositional variation (1) in coastal forest types is related to substrate, steepness and proximity to coast; (2) in early-successional, lowland rain forest to proximity to the coast, steepness and cultivation disturbance; (3) in late-successional, lowland forest types to elevation. For coastal/littoral forests, most of the compositional variation (71%) is explained by disturbance and environmental variables that do not covary with island while for both early and late-successional forests there is a higher degree of compositional variation reflecting covariation between disturbance/environment and island. Conclusions: There are regional similarities, across islands, among littoral/coastal forest types dominated by widespread seawater-dispersed species. The early-successional species that dominate secondary forests are distributed broadly across islands and environmental gradients, consistent with the gradient-in-time model of succession. Among-island differences in early-successional forest may reflect differences in land-use practices rather than environmental differences or biogeographical history. In late-successional forests, variation in composition among islands can be partly explained by differences among islands and hypothesized tight links between species and environment. Disentangling the effects of anthropogenic disturbance history versus biogeographic history on late-successional forest in this region awaits further study. [source]

A long-term record of Quercus decline, logging and fires in a southern Swedish Fagus - Picea forest

Mats Niklasson
Tutin et al. (1964,1976) Abstract. We reconstructed forest development and disturbance events (fire and logging) during the last 1000 yr with tree-ring data, pollen and charcoal analysis from a semi-natural Fagus sylvatica-Picea abies forest (ca. 1 km2) in the hemiboreal zone. According to pollen analysis, Quercus robur together with Pinus sylvestris was abundant in the forest until the turn of the 18th/19th centuries when these species disappeared completely (Quercus) or nearly completely (Pinus) and were replaced by Fagus and Picea. The disappearance of Quercus was corroborated by the remarkable discovery of a single Quercus stump that had been cut in the 18th century and had become overgrown and preserved by a very old Picea. In total 11 fires were dated from 1555 to 1748 from fire scars in several Pinus stumps cut 100 - 200 yr ago. Since the last fire in 1748, no Quercus or Pinus have regenerated in the core of the reserve apart from single pines in neighbouring managed forest (80 yr ago). During the period of documented fires Fagus was protected from fires in a refuge made up of large boulders. Picea colonized the region at the time when the fires ceased 250 yr ago. We hypothesize that most of the fires were probably of human origin because of their patchiness and high frequency compared to the natural background levels of lightning ignitions in the region. On a 300-yr time scale, logging and fire suppression seem to strongly overshadow the effect of climate change on forest composition and dynamics. [source]

Differences in forest composition in two boreal forest ecoregions of Quebec

Sylvie Gauthier
Abstract. In order to describe and compare the post-fire succession patterns of the two ecological regions (mixed-wood and coniferous ecoregions) of northwestern Quebec, 260 forest stands were sampled with the point-centred plot method. The mixed-wood ecological region belongs to the Abies balsamea-Betula papyrifera bioclimatic domain whereas the coniferous ecological region belongs to the Picea mariana -moss bioclimatic domain. In each plot, tree composition was described, surficial deposits and drainage were recorded, and fire history was reconstructed using standard dendro-ecological methods. Ordination techniques (Correspondence Analysis and Canonical Correspondence Analysis) were used to describe the successional patterns of forest vegetation and to correlate them with the explanatory variables. The results showed the importance of surficial deposits, the time since fire and the ecoregion in explaining the variation of stand composition. Abies balsamea tends to increase in importance with an increase in time since fire, and this trend is more pronounced in the mixed-wood region. Even when controlling both for surficial deposits and time since fire, differences in successional trends were observed between the two ecoregions. As all the species are present in both ecoregions and as they are all observed further north, our results suggest that both the landscape configuration and fire regime parameters such as fire size and fire intensity are important factors involved in these differences. [source]

Long-term post-fire changes in the northeastern boreal forest of Quebec

Louis De Grandpré
Abstract. Natural dynamics in the boreal forest is influenced by disturbances. Fire recurrence affects community development and landscape diversity. Forest development was studied in the northeastern boreal forest of Quebec. The objective was to describe succession following fire and to assess the factors related to the changes in forest composition and structure. The study area is located in northeastern Quebec, 50 km north of Baie-Comeau. We used the forest inventory data gathered by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec (MRNQ). In circular plots of 400 m2, the diameter at breast height (DBH) of all stems of tree species greater than 10 cm was recorded and in 40 m2 subplots, stems smaller than 10 cm were measured. A total of 380 plots were sampled in an area of 6000 km2. The fire history reconstruction was done based on historical maps, old aerial photographs and field sampling. A time-since-fire class, a deposit type, slope, slope aspect and altitude were attributed to each plot. Each plot was also described according to species richness and size structure characteristics. Traces of recent disturbance were also recorded in each plot. Changes in forest composition were described using ordination analyses (NMDS and CCA) and correlated with the explanatory variables. Two successional pathways were observed in the area and characterized by the early dominance of intolerant hardwood species or Picea mariana. With time elapsed since the last fire, composition converged towards either Picea mariana, Abies balsamea or a mixture of both species and the size structure of the coniferous dominated stands got more irregular. The environmental conditions varied between stands and explained part of the variability in composition. Their effect tended to decrease with increasing time elapsed since fire, as canopy composition was getting more similar. Gaps may be important to control forest dynamics in old successional communities. [source]

Recruitment dynamics of invasive species in rainforest habitats following Cyclone Larry

Abstract In tropical forests, natural disturbance creates opportunities for species to claim previously utilized space and resources and is considered an important mechanism in the maintenance of species diversity. However, ecologists have long recognized that disturbance also promotes exotic plant invasions. Cyclones cause extensive defoliation, loss of major branches and multiple tree falls, resulting in a significantly more open canopy and increased light and heat levels in the understorey. The widespread and massive disturbance caused by cyclones provides ideal conditions for rapid recruitment and spread of invasive species. The ecological roles of invasive species in rainforest habitats following such a severe disturbance are poorly understood. Severe category 4 Cyclone Larry crossed the North Queensland coast in March 2006 causing massive disturbance to rainforest habitats from Tully to Cairns and west to the Atherton Tablelands. We established 10 plots in an area extensively damaged by this cyclone near El Arish in North Queensland. On each plot nine 2 × 2 m quadrats were established with three quadrats per plot in each of the following treatments: (i) complete debris removal down to the soil layer, (ii) removal of coarse woody debris only, and (iii) uncleared. We monitored recruitment, growth and mortality of all native and invasive species in the 90 quadrats every 3 months since the cyclone. Here we present the recruitment dynamics of invasive species across the study area in relation to the level of disturbance, the type of quadrat treatment, and the diversity and abundance of the native recruiting flora over the first 12 months post-cyclone. Our results suggest that invasive species will mostly comprise a transient component of the flora in the early stages of the successional response. However, some species may have longer-term effects on the successional trajectory of the rainforest and future forest composition and structure. [source]

A long-term record of Nothofagus dominance in the southern Andes, Chile

William Pollmann
Abstract The general model of regeneration dynamics in Nothofagus forests of southern South America could have value in community ecology if predictive relationships between disturbance history, functional traits and site attributes could be identified. Examined here is the proposal that on favourable sites shade-intolerant Nothofagus are likely not to survive in competition with shade-tolerant, broad-leaved evergreen taxa of temperate rain forests, and persistence, thus, is dependent on periodic coarse-scale disturbance. Comparison of stand dynamics of three old-growth Nothofagus forests at different elevations in the southern Andes, Chile where deciduous Nothofagus alpina dominates the upper canopy, and examination of the life history trade-offs of this variation were made. Stem density of all stems ,5.0 cm d.b.h. was 233,303 stems per hectare, and basal area was 123.9,171.0 m2ha,1. Maximum lifespan of N. alpina was found to be greater than ca 640 years, exceeding all previously reported ages for this species in the region. Forests had a stable canopy composition for this long-term, but some appeared to lack effective regeneration of N. alpina in recent years. Regeneration of N. alpina was generally greater in disturbed stands and higher elevation than in undisturbed stands and at lower elevation. Recruitment emerged to be strongly affected by competitive over- and understorey associates. There was a gradient of increasing dependence of N. alpina on disturbance towards the more productive end of the environment gradients, and hence less dependence of N. alpina on disturbance for its regeneration towards higher elevation. The study confirms that changes in forest composition may be explained by processes occurring in accordance with the predictions of the existing model of Nothofagus regeneration dynamics, providing stronger evidence specifically directed at mid-tolerant N. alpina, and by factoring out regeneration dynamics on favourable sites. Thus, for N. alpina, trait differences probably contribute to the competitive advantage over its associates in productive habitats, and may be linked to small-to-intermediate-sized disturbances which inevitably occur as older trees die, enabling N. alpina to persist in forests and therefore maintain species coexistence for the long-term. [source]

Land crabs as key drivers in tropical coastal forest recruitment

Erin Stewart Lindquist
ABSTRACT Plant populations are regulated by a diverse assortment of abiotic and biotic factors that influence seed dispersal and viability, and seedling establishment and growth at the microsite. Rarely does one animal guild exert as significant an influence on different plant assemblages as land crabs. We review three tropical coastal ecosystems,mangroves, island maritime forests, and mainland coastal terrestrial forests,where land crabs directly influence forest composition by limiting tree establishment and recruitment. Land crabs differentially prey on seeds, propagules and seedlings along nutrient, chemical and physical environmental gradients. In all of these ecosystems, but especially mangroves, abiotic gradients are well studied, strong and influence plant species distributions. However, we suggest that crab predation has primacy over many of these environmental factors by acting as the first limiting factor of tropical tree recruitment to drive the potential structural and compositional organisation of coastal forests. We show that the influence of crabs varies relative to tidal gradient, shoreline distance, canopy position, time, season, tree species and fruiting periodicity. Crabs also facilitate forest growth and development through such activities as excavation of burrows, creation of soil mounds, aeration of soils, removal of leaf litter into burrows and creation of carbon-rich soil microhabitats. For all three systems, land crabs influence the distribution, density and size-class structure of tree populations. Indeed, crabs are among the major drivers of tree recruitment in tropical coastal forest ecosystems, and their conservation should be included in management plans of these forests. [source]

Species-Specific Growth Responses to Climate Variations in Understory Trees of a Central African Rain Forest

BIOTROPICA, Issue 4 2010
Camille Couralet
ABSTRACT Basic knowledge of the relationships between tree growth and environmental variables is crucial for understanding forest dynamics and predicting vegetation responses to climate variations. Trees growing in tropical areas with a clear seasonality in rainfall often form annual growth rings. In the understory, however, tree growth is supposed to be mainly affected by interference for access to light and other resources. In the semi-deciduous Mayombe forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the evergreen species Aidia ochroleuca, Corynanthe paniculata and Xylopia wilwerthii dominate the understory. We studied their wood to determine whether they form annual growth rings in response to changing climate conditions. Distinct growth rings were proved to be annual and triggered by a common external factor for the three species. Species-specific site chronologies were thus constructed from the cross-dated individual growth-ring series. Correlation analysis with climatic variables revealed that annual radial stem growth is positively related to precipitation during the rainy season but at different months. The growth was found to associate with precipitation during the early rainy season for Aidia but at the end of the rainy season for Corynanthe and Xylopia. Our results suggest that a dendrochronological approach allows the understanding of climate,growth relationships in tropical forests, not only for canopy trees but also for evergreen understory species and thus arguably for the whole tree community. Global climate change influences climatic seasonality in tropical forest areas, which is likely to result in differential responses across species with a possible effect on forest composition over time. Abstract in French is available at [source]

Sex in Space: Pollination among Spatially Isolated Plants

BIOTROPICA, Issue 2 2004
Jaboury Ghazoul
ABSTRACT Plant distributions are changing at unprecedented rates, primarily due to habitat clearance and the spread of alien invasive species. Landscape pattern and local density can affect plant sexual processes, particularly those mediated by biotic vectors, by acting on the composition and behavior of pollinators and seed dispersers. Ecologists are now grappling with the likely effects of these altered processes on future forest composition as existing plant reproductive mutualisms break down or adjust to new spatial circumstances. Here, we introduce five papers that address pollinator responses and pollination outcomes in a variety of human-dominated landscapes and emphasize the need to better understand the dynamic nature of plant,pollinator interactions. [source]