Influence of distance to forest edges on natural regeneration of abandoned pastures

Influence of distance to forest edges on natural regeneration of abandoned pastures

A case study in the tropical mountain rain forest of Southern Ecuador

Sven Günter, Michael Weber, Robert Erreis, Nikolay Aguirre

Manuskriptversion - published in Eur J Forest Res 126, 2007: S. 67–75

In spite of its high diversity, the forests in Southern Ecuador are highly endangered by deforestation. One of the main reasons for the loss of forests is the conversion into pastures. Due to their fast degradation, the pastures are abandoned after several years and form an increasing area of unproductive land. The remoteness from existing forest edges is discussed as one reason for the very slow natural reforestation of these areas. In this study we analyzed the regeneration of a secondary forest after approx. 38 years of succession in relation to the distance from the surrounding forest. We revealed that regeneration was rather slow. Especially larger trees with dbh > 10 cm were very scarce. Only Dioicodendron dioicum, Graffenrieda emarginata and Clusia sp. achieved larger diameters. The basal area of the secondary forest is still far beyond the original level in the primary forest. The number of species on plot level and the Shannon index were significantly lower in the secondary forest compared to the primary forest. The total number of species decreased from 47 to 31 with increasing distance from the forest edge and the similarity of species composition to the upper story declined to a level of 56,4 (Sörensen). Alzatea verticillata, Macrocarpea revoluta and Palicourea andaluciana had significantly higher abundances in the succession stages than in the natural forest. The most abundant species in all regeneration plots, Graffenrieda emarginata and Purdiea nutans seem to be generalists as they did not show preference either to natural forest or successional stages.

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