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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Secondary succession in a fragmented Atlantic Forest landscape: evidence of structural and diversity convergence along a chronosequence

Published Date
Volume 19, Issue 6pp 501–513

Original Article
DOI: 10.1007/s10310-014-0441-6

Cite this article as: 
do Nascimento, L.M., de Sá Barretto Sampaio, E.V., Rodal, M.J.N. et al. J For Res (2014) 19: 501. doi:10.1007/s10310-014-0441-6

  • Ladivania Medeiros do Nascimento
  • Everardo Valadares de Sá Barretto Sampaio
  • Maria Jesus Nogueira Rodal
  • Ana Carolina Borges Lins-e-Silva

Changes in physiognomy, species composition and structure, and dispersal mechanisms of canopy and subcanopy plant assemblages were investigated along a chronosequence of three ages: 12, 20, and 50+ years old (=old-growth), three replications in each, in an Atlantic Forest landscape in Northeastern Brazil. Our objective was to investigate whether there is floristic and structural convergence along secondary succession. There were significant differences between secondary and old-growth forests in density and basal area only for the subcanopy. Differences in density between forest ages were noted when the assemblage was analyzed per diameter and height classes. Richness of canopy species of both secondary ages differed from those of old-growth forests. Some dominant species in the canopy of secondary forests showed a significant decrease in density with increasing age, which indicates an ongoing process of floristic changes. The low level of shared species between secondary and old-growth forests supports the idea that species composition is one of the last components to recover during successional process. Zoochory was the most important dispersal guild in species percentage and number, irrespective of stand age. Although regenerating areas can take alternative pathways, our results indicate that secondary Atlantic Forest sites have a high potential for natural regeneration. This recovery is recorded as a physiognomic convergence of the canopy layer in as little as 12 years, and progressive introductions of later successional species into the plant assemblage that lead to convergence in terms of the diversity and richness of the subcanopy and of dispersal guilds just 20 years after abandonment.

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