ResearchPad - forest-ecology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effect of forest management on tree diversity in temperate ecosystem forests in northern Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15742 An important challenge for silvicultural practices is the conservation of tree diversity while fulfilling the traditional objectives of forest management, most notably timber harvesting. The purpose of this study was to compare the tree diversity before and after the application of silvicultural treatments in a temperate forest in northern Mexico. Fifteen experimental plots, each measuring 2500 m2, were established to evaluate the immediate effect of four silvicultural treatments. These treatments were identified by their levels of management: intensive (clearcut, removal 100%), semi-intensive (removal of 59–61% of basal area), conservative (removal of 29–31% of basal area), and a control group. New forest guidelines, in contrast to conventional approaches, were applied to the semi-intensive and conservative treatments based on health and diversity conditions. Basal area, canopy cover, tree and total volume were measured in each plot. The Importance Value Index, alpha diversity, and evenness were estimated before and after treatments. Eighteen species belonging to five genera and five families were found in the study area. The species with the highest ecological values were Pinus durangensis, P. teocote, Quercus sideroxyla, and Quercus convallata with IVI numbers between 13.6 and 24.5%. Alpha diversity was intermediate (Margalef: 2.9 to 3.8), while dominance and evenness were above average compared to other studies (Simpson: 0.69 to 0.77; Shannon-Wiener: 1.44 to 1.6; Pielou: 0.76 to 0.85). The species evenness index in the conservative treatment was high (Sorensen, Jaccard, quantitative Sorensen and Morisita-Horn; 88 to 99%), although abundance decreased. Overall, there were no significant differences in IVI values and diversity indicators before and after treatments, with the exception of the clearcut treatment. When associating the diversity indices with stand variables, only the Pielou’s evenness index showed a significant relationship between them. We concluded that both the conservative and semi-intensive treatments did not generate significant changes in tree diversity, but the former had slightly higher alpha diversity indices. These results can provide a better insight on silvicultural practices and their effects on species composition.

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<![CDATA[Local and landscape-level diversity effects on forest functioning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14584 Research of the past decades has shown that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of ecosystem functioning. However, most of this biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) research focused on experimental communities on small areas where environmental context was held constant. Whether the established BEF relationships also apply to natural or managed ecosystems that are embedded in variable landscape contexts remains unclear. In this study, we therefore investigated biodiversity effects on ecosystem functions in 36 forest stands that were located across a vast range of environmental conditions in managed landscapes of Central Europe (Switzerland). Specifically, we approximated forest productivity by leaf area index and forest phenology by growing-season length and tested effects of tree species richness and land-cover richness on these variables. We then examined the correlation and the confounding of these local and landscape-level diversity effects with environmental context variables related to forest stand structure (number of trees), landscape structure (land-cover edge density), climate (annual precipitation) and topography (mean altitude). We found that of all tested variables tree species richness was among the most important determinants of forest leaf area index and growing-season length. The positive effects of tree species richness on these two ecosystem variables were remarkably consistent across the different environmental conditions we investigated and we found little evidence of a context-dependent change in these biodiversity effects. Land-cover richness was not directly related to local forest functions but could nevertheless play a role via a positive effect on tree species richness.

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<![CDATA[Distribution pattern of Tugai forests species diversity and their relationship to environmental factors in an arid area of China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14501 Ecological restoration of degraded riparian Tugai forests is a key driver to combat desertification in arid regions. Previous studies have focused mainly on changes in groundwater as the underlying mechanisms of Tugai forest’s decline. We evaluated species composition and diversity of Tugai forest and their relationship to groundwater, soil salinity, and soil nutrient. Using 73 quadrats (100 m × 100 m) from 13 transects located perpendicularly to river in the upper reaches of the Tarim River. Eighteen plant species belonging to sixteen genera and eight families were recorded, and the dominant species included Populus euphratica, Phragmites communis, and Tamarix ramosissima. Three P. euphratica stand ages were detected: young stand, mature stand, and old stand. There were significant differences in species diversity, groundwater depth, groundwater salinity, distance from the quadrat to the river channel, soil moisture content, pH, electrical conductivity, total salt, Cl, SO42−, Ca2−, Mg2+, Na+, K+, soil organic carbon, and soil organic matter across the stand ages. Seven species were identified as indicators of the three stand ages. Redundancy analysis indicated that the Tugai forest diversity indices were negatively correlated with groundwater depth, groundwater salinity, and distance from the river, and positively associated with electrical conductivity, total salt, pH, Cl, SO42−, CO32−, soil organic matter, soil organic carbon, and soil moisture content. Plant diversity was the highest at 3–6 m groundwater depth, followed by 0–3 m and then 6–9 m, with the lowest recorded at > 9 m. The appropriate groundwater depth for herbs was about 1–4 m, whereas the depth for trees and shrubs was about 3–6 m. The groundwater depth < 6 m was deemed suitable for the growth of desert riparian forests. This results provide a scientific reference for the ecological restoration and protection for Tugai forests in arid areas.

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<![CDATA[Valuing and mapping cork and carbon across land use scenarios in a Portuguese montado landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accd7d5eed0c484990136

The ecosystem services approach can inform decision-making by accounting for both short- and long-term benefits from different land use options. Here we used the InVEST toolkit to quantify and map key ecosystem services at the largest publicly-owned agro-silvo-pastoral farmstead in Portugal–a site representative for the montado landscape. We analyzed how Provisioning (cork production) and Regulating & Maintenance (carbon storage and sequestration) services would be affected under three land use change scenarios, which were developed in collaboration with the forest manager of the study area: Cattle Intensification, Forest Improvement, and Residential Development. Results show that increasing cattle or residential development would deliver substantially lower levels of services. We find that extensive management, improvements to forest quality, and promotion of traditional livestock grazing would provide the highest levels of assessed ecosystem services, resulting in 13.5% more carbon storage (worth between $0.34-$7.79 million USD depending on carbon price) and 62.7% more cork production (total value of USD $3.5 million) than the current land use. However, a shift in economic incentives to make sustainable cork harvesting and traditional low-density grazing of smaller ruminants like sheep and goats profitable are likely needed to reward traditional land stewardship and help support this iconic Mediterranean landscape in the future.

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<![CDATA[Human disturbance impacts the integrity of sacred church forests, Ethiopia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8977abd5eed0c4847d32dd

Land-use change can have profound effects on forest communities, compromising seedling recruitment and growth, and long-term persistence of forests on the landscape. Continued forest conversion to agriculture causes forest fragmentation which decreases forest size, increases edge effects and forest isolation, all of which negatively impact forest health. These fragmentation effects are magnified by human use of forests, which can compromise the continued persistence of species in these forests and the ability of the forests to support the communities that depend on them. We examined the extent and influence of human disturbance (e.g. weedy taxa, native and exotic tree plantations, clearings, buildings) on the ecological status of sacred church forests in the northern highlands of South Gondar, Ethiopia and hypothesized that disturbance would have a negative effect. We found that disturbance was high across all forests (56%) and was negatively associated with tree species richness, density, and biomass and seedling richness and density. Contrary to expectation, we found that forests < 15.5 ha show no difference in disturbance level with distance from population center. Based on our findings, we recommend that local conservation strategies not only protect large forests, but also the small and highly used forests in South Gondar which are critical to the needs of local people, including preserving large trees for seed sources, removing exotic and weedy species from forests, and reducing clearings and trails within forests.

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<![CDATA[Long-term exposure to more frequent disturbances increases baseline carbon in some ecosystems: Mapping and quantifying the disturbance frequency-ecosystem C relationship]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c785015d5eed0c484007c44

Disturbance regimes have a major influence on the baseline carbon that characterizes any particular ecosystem. Often regimes result in lower average regional baseline C (compared to those same systems if the disturbance processes were lessened/removed). However, in infrequently disturbed systems the role of disturbance as a “background” process that influences broad-scale, baseline C levels is often neglected. Long-term chronosequences suggest disturbances in these systems may serve to increase regional biomass C stocks by maintaining productivity. However, that inference has not been tested spatially. Here, the large forested system of southeast Alaska, USA, is utilized to 1) estimate baseline regional C stocks, 2) test the fundamental disturbance-ecosystem C relationship, 3) estimate the cumulative impact of disturbances on baseline C. Using 1491 ground points with carbon measurements and a novel way of mapping disturbance regimes, the relationship between total biomass C, disturbance exposure, and climate was analyzed statistically. A spatial model was created to determine regional C and compare different disturbance scenarios. In this infrequently disturbed ecosystem, higher disturbance exposure is correlated with higher biomass C, supporting the hypothesis that disturbances maintain productivity at broad scales. The region is estimated to potentially contain a baseline 1.21–1.52 Pg biomass C (when unmanaged). Removal of wind and landslides from the model resulted in lower net C stocks (-2 to -19% reduction), though the effect was heterogeneous on finer scales. There removal of landslides alone had a larger effect then landslide and wind combined removal. The relationship between higher disturbance exposure and higher biomass within the broad ecosystem (which, on average, has a very low disturbance frequency) suggest that disturbances can serve maintain higher levels of productivity in infrequently disturbed but very C dense ecosystems. Carbon research in other systems, especially those where disturbances are infrequent relative to successional processes, should consider the role of disturbances in maintaining baseline ecosystem productivity.

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<![CDATA[Hidden fungal diversity from the Neotropics: Geastrum hirsutum, G. schweinitzii (Basidiomycota, Geastrales) and their allies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648cc2d5eed0c484c81713

Taxonomy of Geastrum species in the neotropics has been subject to divergent opinions among specialists. In our study, type collections were reassessed and compared with recent collections in order to delimit species in Geastrum, sect. Myceliostroma, subsect. Epigaea. A thorough review of morphologic features combined with barcode and phylogenetic analyses (ITS and LSU nrDNA) revealed six new species (G. neoamericanum, G. rubellum, G. brunneocapillatum, G. baculicrystallum, G. rubropusillum and G. courtecuissei). In additon, the presence of hairs on the exoperidium, a commonly used feature to diagnose Geastrum species, proved to be ineffective because it is a derived character within subsect. Epigaea.

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<![CDATA[Ecosystem services changes between 2000 and 2015 in the Loess Plateau, China: A response to ecological restoration]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d655d5eed0c484031bf4

The Loess Plateau of China is one of the most severe soil and water loss areas in the world. Since 1999, the Grain to Green Program (GTGP) has been implemented in the region. This study aimed to analyze spatial and temporal variations of ecosystem services from 2000 to 2015 to assess the effects of the GTGP, including carbon sequestration, water regulation, soil conservation and sand fixation. During the study period, the area of forest land and grassland significantly expanded, while the area of farmland decreased sharply. Ecosystem services showed an overall improvement with localized deterioration. Carbon sequestration, water regulation and soil conservation increased substantially. Sand fixation showed a decreasing trend mainly because of decreased wind speeds. There were synergies between carbon sequestration and water regulation, and tradeoffs between soil conservation and sand fixation. It was concluded that ecological projects have contributed significantly to the rehabilitation of the fragile ecosystems of this region. To make these projects more successful and sustainable, long-term management procedures are necessary to maintain and consolidate the improvements.

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<![CDATA[Are predation rates comparable between natural and artificial open-cup tree nests in boreal forest landscapes?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa59ed5eed0c484ca68cb

Nest predation studies often use artificial nests to secure sample sizes and nest distribution patterns that allow empirically testing differences in predation rates between ecological units of interest. These studies rely on the assumption that natural and artificial nests experience similar or consistent relative predation rates across ecological gradients. As this assumption may depend on several factors (for example differences in predator community, nest construction, parental care patterns), it is important to test whether artificial nests provide adequate and comparable estimates of predation rates to natural nests. In this study, we compare predation rates of above-ground natural open-cup nests, artificial nests and natural nests with artificial eggs along a forest gradient from edge to interior (interior, transition zone and edge) and within two nest visibility classes (visible and concealed). Our aim was to determine whether nest structure affects comparability between nest types along these ecological gradients in boreal forests. Our results indicated important contributions of nest type, nest visibility and location along the forest edge-interior gradient, but no variable had strong significant effects on predation rates, except exposure time that showed lower predation rates at longer exposure times. Predation rates in visible and concealed nests remained similar for all nest types, but not along the forest edge-interior gradient. Here, artificial nests showed much lower predation rates than natural nests, whereas natural nests with artificial eggs tended to have higher predation rates than natural nests. We conclude that artificial nests in boreal forests represent an adequate measure of relative nest predation risk in open-cup natural nests along some ecological gradients, but results on predation rates along forest edge-interior gradients obtained from artificial nests should be interpreted with care.

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<![CDATA[Clusters of high abundance of plants detected from local indicators of spatial association (LISA) in a semi-deciduous tropical forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1c0b0ad5eed0c4844272d0

Plants are rarely randomly distributed across communities, and patchiness is a common spatial pattern in most tropical forests. Clusters of high density of plant individuals are related to internal and external forces, as well as to historical events. The detection of aggregated patterns of plant individuals allows for a better understanding of the internal and external factors that guide the distribution of species. The aim of this research was to detect and characterize clusters of high abundance of plants and species richness in semi-deciduous forests in the Dominican Republic. For this, we collected vegetation data from 575 quadrats in 23 transects (2300 m2 in total) within the Ocoa river basin. Using local Moran’s I statistics, we isolated 18 quadrats of high density of individuals. We show that density of individuals can be 2.5 times larger on average than in non-aggregated quadrats, and can reach higher values for shrubs species as well as for palms and vines species. In addition, we found that shrub species are the most abundant group in aggregated quadrats, and density of tree species is significantly smaller than that of shrub species. High density quadrats are predominantly occupied by shrubs, palms and vines, following patterns of species composition and lithology. Detecting clusters of high density of individuals could help in the efficient assessment of richness in semi-deciduous tropical forests, and may support new conservation practices for this valuable but threatened ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[Unprecedented plant species loss after a decade in fragmented subtropical Chaco Serrano forests]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0841add5eed0c484fca6b6

Current biodiversity loss is mostly caused by anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and resource exploitation. Measuring the balance of species loss and gain in remaining fragmented landscapes throughout time entails a central research challenge. We resurveyed in 2013 plant species richness in the same plots of a previous sampling conducted in 2003 across 18 forest fragments of different sizes of the Chaco Serrano forest in Argentina. While the area of these forest remnants was kept constant, their surrounding forest cover changed over this time period. We compared plant species richness of both sampling years and calculated the proportion of species loss and gain at forest edges and interiors. As in 2003, we found a positive relationship between fragment area and plant richness in 2013 and both years showed a similar slope. However, we detected a net decrease of 24% of species’ richness across all forest fragments, implying an unprecedentedly high rate and magnitude of species loss driven mainly by non-woody, short-lived species. There was a higher proportion of lost and gained species at forest edges than in forest interiors. Importantly, fragment area interacted with percent change in surrounding forest cover to explain the proportion of species lost. Small forest fragments showed a relatively constant proportion of species loss regardless of any changes in surrounding forest cover, whereas in larger fragments the proportion of species lost increased when surrounding forest cover decreased. We show that despite preserving fragment area, habitat quality and availability in the surroundings is of fundamental importance in shaping extinction and immigration dynamics of plant species at any given forest remnant. Because the Chaco Serrano forest has already lost 94% of its original cover, we argue that plant extinctions will continue through the coming decades unless active management actions are taken to increase native forest areas.

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<![CDATA[Leaf phosphorus content of Quercus wutaishanica increases with total soil potassium in the Loess Plateau]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b6da1b5463d7e4dccc5faee

Phosphorus (P) is arguably more limiting than nitrogen for forest ecosystems being free of disturbances for lengthy time periods. The elucidation of multivariate relationships between foliar P and its primary drivers for dominant species is an urgent issue and formidable challenge for ecologists. Our goal was to evaluate the effects of primary drivers on foliar P of Quercus wutaishanica, the dominant species in broadleaved deciduous forest at the Loess Plateau, China. We sampled the leaves of 90 Q. wutaishanica individuals across broad climate and soil nutrient gradients at the Loess Plateau, China, and employed structural equation models (SEM) to evaluate multiple causal pathways and the relative importance of the drivers for foliar P per unit mass (Pmass) and per unit area (Parea). Our SEMs explained 73% and 81% of the variations in Pmass and Parea, respectively. Pmass was negatively correlated to leaf mass per area, positively correlated to leaf area, and increased with mean annual precipitation and total soil potassium. Parea was positively correlated to leaf mass per area, leaf dry weight, and increased significantly with total soil potassium. Our results demonstrated that leaf P content of Q. wutaishanica increased with total soil potassium in the Loess Plateau accordingly.

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<![CDATA[Potential trajectories of the upcoming forest trading mechanism in Pará State, Brazilian Amazon]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdc1af

In 2012, the Brazilian government revised the federal Forest Code that governs the use of forest resources on rural properties. The revisions included a forest trading mechanism whereby landowners who deforested more than what is legally allowed before 2008 could absolve their deforestation “debts” by purchasing Environmental Reserve Quotas (CRA) from landowners who conserved more forest than legally required. CRA holds promise as a tool to complement command-and-control initiatives to reduce deforestation and incentivize restoration. However, the success of this instrument depends on how its implementation is governed. This study builds on a few recent assessments of the potential of the CRA in Brazil–but that are focused on biophysical potential–by assessing how a few key implementation decisions may influence the CRA market development. Specifically, this study estimates how decisions on who can participate will likely influence the potential forest surplus and forest debt for the CRA market, and takes into account governance characteristics relevant to the State of Pará, eastern Amazonia. In particular, the study evaluates the effects in the CRA market eligibility after simulating a validation of properties in the environmental rural registry (CAR) and assessing different scenarios surrounding land tenure status of properties. Results show how regulatory decisions on CRA market eligibility will determine the extent to which CRA will serve as a tool to support forest conservation or as a low-cost path to help illegal deforesters to comply with legislation, but with limited additional environmental benefits. The study reviews regulatory options that would reduce the risk of forest oversupply, and thereby increase the additionality of the areas eligible for CRA. Overall, the study demonstrates the importance of including governance as well as biophysical characteristics in assessing the potential of forest trading tools to deliver additional environmental conservation and restoration benefits.

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<![CDATA[Consequences of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on Medicinal Plant Selection: Plant Use for Cultural Bound Syndromes Affecting Children in Suriname and Western Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf3ab0ee8fa60bc1fdd

Folk perceptions of health and illness include cultural bound syndromes (CBS), ailments generally confined to certain cultural groups or geographic regions and often treated with medicinal plants. Our aim was to compare definitions and plant use for CBS regarding child health in the context of the largest migration in recent human history: the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We compared definitions of four CBS (walk early, evil eye, atita and fontanels) and associated plant use among three Afro-Surinamese populations and their African ancestor groups in Ghana, Bénin and Gabon. We expected plant use to be similar on species level, and assumed the majority to be weedy or domesticated species, as these occur on both continents and were probably recognized by enslaved Africans. Data were obtained by identifying plants mentioned during interviews with local women from the six different populations. To analyse differences and similarities in plant use we used Detrended Component Analysis (DCA) and a Wald Chi-square test. Definitions of the four cultural bound syndromes were roughly the same on both continents. In total, 324 plant species were used. There was little overlap between Suriname and Africa: 15 species were used on two continents, of which seven species were used for the same CBS. Correspondence on family level was much higher. Surinamese populations used significantly more weedy species than Africans, but equal percentages of domesticated plants. Our data indicate that Afro-Surinamers have searched for similar plants to treat their CBS as they remembered from Africa. In some cases, they have found the same species, but they had to reinvent the largest part of their herbal pharmacopeia to treat their CBS using known plant families or trying out new species. Ideas on health and illness appear to be more resilient than the use of plants to treat them.

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<![CDATA[Phylogenetic Impoverishment of Amazonian Tree Communities in an Experimentally Fragmented Forest Landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da01ab0ee8fa60b74204

Amazonian rainforests sustain some of the richest tree communities on Earth, but their ecological and evolutionary responses to human threats remain poorly known. We used one of the largest experimental datasets currently available on tree dynamics in fragmented tropical forests and a recent phylogeny of angiosperms to test whether tree communities have lost phylogenetic diversity since their isolation about two decades previously. Our findings revealed an overall trend toward phylogenetic impoverishment across the experimentally fragmented landscape, irrespective of whether tree communities were in 1-ha, 10-ha, or 100-ha forest fragments, near forest edges, or in continuous forest. The magnitude of the phylogenetic diversity loss was low (<2% relative to before-fragmentation values) but widespread throughout the study landscape, occurring in 32 of 40 1-ha plots. Consistent with this loss in phylogenetic diversity, we observed a significant decrease of 50% in phylogenetic dispersion since forest isolation, irrespective of plot location. Analyses based on tree genera that have significantly increased (28 genera) or declined (31 genera) in abundance and basal area in the landscape revealed that increasing genera are more phylogenetically related than decreasing ones. Also, the loss of phylogenetic diversity was greater in tree communities where increasing genera proliferated and decreasing genera reduced their importance values, suggesting that this taxonomic replacement is partially underlying the phylogenetic impoverishment at the landscape scale. This finding has clear implications for the current debate about the role human-modified landscapes play in sustaining biodiversity persistence and key ecosystem services, such as carbon storage. Although the generalization of our findings to other fragmented tropical forests is uncertain, it could negatively affect ecosystem productivity and stability and have broader impacts on coevolved organisms.

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<![CDATA[Foraging niche segregation in Malaysian babblers (Family: Timaliidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc7d1

Tropical rainforests are considered as hotspots for bird diversity, yet little is known about the system that upholds the coexistence of species. Differences in body size that are associated with foraging strategies and spatial distribution are believed to promote the coexistence of closely related species by reducing competition. However, the fact that many babbler species do not differ significantly in their morphology has challenged this view. We studied the foraging ecology of nine sympatric babbler species (i.e., Pellorneum capistratum, P. bicolor, P. malaccense, Malacopteron cinereum, M. magnum, Stachyris nigriceps, S. nigricollis, S. maculata, and Cyanoderma erythropterum) in the Krau Wildlife Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia. We investigated; i) how these babblers forage in the wild and use vegetation to obtain food, and ii) how these trophically similar species differ in spatial distribution and foraging tactics. Results indicated that most babblers foraged predominantly on aerial leaf litter and used gleaning manoeuvre in intermediate-density foliage but exhibited wide ranges of vertical strata usage, thus reducing interspecific competition. The principal component analysis indicated that two components, i.e., foraging height and substrate are important as mechanisms to allow the coexistence of sympatric babblers. The present findings revealed that these bird species have unique foraging niches that are distinct from each other, and this may apply to other insectivorous birds inhabiting tropical forests. This suggests that niche separation does occur among coexisting birds, thus following Gause’ law of competitive exclusion, which states two species occupying the same niche will not stably coexist.

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<![CDATA[Height-diameter allometry and above ground biomass in tropical montane forests: Insights from the Albertine Rift in Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5fab0ee8fa60be10e1

Tropical montane forests provide an important natural laboratory to test ecological theory. While it is well-known that some aspects of forest structure change with altitude, little is known on the effects of altitude on above ground biomass (AGB), particularly with regard to changing height-diameter allometry. To address this we investigate (1) the effects of altitude on height-diameter allometry, (2) how different height-diameter allometric models affect above ground biomass estimates; and (3) how other forest structural, taxonomic and environmental attributes affect above ground biomass using 30 permanent sample plots (1-ha; all trees ≥ 10 cm diameter measured) established between 1250 and 2600 m asl in Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Forest structure and species composition differed with increasing altitude, with four forest types identified. Different height-diameter allometric models performed better with the different forest types, as trees got smaller with increasing altitude. Above ground biomass ranged from 168 to 290 Mg ha-1, but there were no significant differences in AGB between forests types, as tree size decreased but stem density increased with increasing altitude. Forest structure had greater effects on above ground biomass than forest diversity. Soil attributes (K and acidity, pH) also significantly affected above ground biomass. Results show how forest structural, taxonomic and environmental attributes affect above ground biomass in African tropical montane forests. They particularly highlight that the use of regional height-diameter models introduces significant biases in above ground biomass estimates, and that different height-diameter models might be preferred for different forest types, and these should be considered in future studies.

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<![CDATA[Effects of conversion of native cerrado vegetation to pasture on soil hydro-physical properties, evapotranspiration and streamflow on the Amazonian agricultural frontier]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5eab0ee8fa60be0b45

Understanding the impacts of land-use change on landscape-hydrological dynamics is one of the main challenges in the Northern Brazilian Cerrado biome, where the Amazon agricultural frontier is located. Motivated by the gap in literature assessing these impacts, we characterized the soil hydro-physical properties and quantified surface water fluxes from catchments under contrasting land-use in this region. We used data from field measurements in two headwater micro-catchments with similar physical characteristics and different land use, i.e. cerrado sensu stricto vegetation and pasture for extensive cattle ranching. We determined hydraulic and physical properties of the soils, applied ground-based remote sensing techniques to estimate evapotranspiration, and monitored streamflow from October 2012 to September 2014. Our results show significant differences in soil hydro-physical properties between the catchments, with greater bulk density and smaller total porosity in the pasture catchment. We found that evapotranspiration is smaller in the pasture (639 ± 31% mm yr-1) than in the cerrado catchment (1,004 ± 24% mm yr-1), and that streamflow from the pasture catchment is greater with runoff coefficients of 0.40 for the pasture and 0.27 for the cerrado catchment. Overall, our results confirm that conversion of cerrado vegetation to pasture causes soil hydro-physical properties deterioration, reduction in evapotranspiration reduction, and increased streamflow.

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<![CDATA[Evaluating the Applicability of Phi Coefficient in Indicating Habitat Preferences of Forest Soil Fauna Based on a Single Field Study in Subtropical China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db2bab0ee8fa60bd15db

Phi coefficient directly depends on the frequencies of occurrence of organisms and has been widely used in vegetation ecology to analyse the associations of organisms with site groups, providing a characterization of ecological preference, but its application in soil ecology remains rare. Based on a single field experiment, this study assessed the applicability of phi coefficient in indicating the habitat preferences of soil fauna, through comparing phi coefficient-induced results with those of ordination methods in charactering soil fauna-habitat(factors) relationships. Eight different habitats of soil fauna were implemented by reciprocal transfer of defaunated soil cores between two types of subtropical forests. Canonical correlation analysis (CCorA) showed that ecological patterns of fauna-habitat relationships and inter-fauna taxa relationships expressed, respectively, by phi coefficients and predicted abundances calculated from partial redundancy analysis (RDA), were extremely similar, and a highly significant relationship between the two datasets was observed (Pillai's trace statistic = 1.998, P = 0.007). In addition, highly positive correlations between phi coefficients and predicted abundances for Acari, Collembola, Nematode and Hemiptera were observed using linear regression analysis. Quantitative relationships between habitat preferences and soil chemical variables were also obtained by linear regression, which were analogous to the results displayed in a partial RDA biplot. Our results suggest that phi coefficient could be applicable on a local scale in evaluating habitat preferences of soil fauna at coarse taxonomic levels, and that the phi coefficient-induced information, such as ecological preferences and the associated quantitative relationships with habitat factors, will be largely complementary to the results of ordination methods. The application of phi coefficient in soil ecology may extend our knowledge about habitat preferences and distribution-abundance relationships, which will benefit the understanding of biodistributions and variations in community compositions in the soil. Similar studies in other places and scales apart from our local site will be need for further evaluation of phi coefficient.

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<![CDATA[Decay and nutrient dynamics of coarse woody debris in the Qinling Mountains, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db51ab0ee8fa60bdc4d1

As an ecological unit, coarse woody debris (CWD) plays an essential role in productivity, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, community regeneration and biodiversity. However, thus far, the information on quantification the decomposition and nutrient content of CWD in forest ecosystems remains considerably limited. In this study, we conducted a long-term (1996–2013) study on decay and nutrient dynamics of CWD for evaluating accurately the ecological value of CWD on the Huoditang Experimental Forest Farm in the Qinling Mountains, China. The results demonstrated that there was a strong correlation between forest biomass and CWD mass. The single exponential decay model well fit the CWD density loss at this site, and as the CWD decomposed, the CWD density decreased significantly. Annual temperature and precipitation were all significantly correlated with the annual mass decay rate. The K contents and the C/N ratio of the CWD decreased as the CWD decayed, but the C, N, P, Ca and Mg contents increased. We observed a significant CWD decay effect on the soil C, N and Mg contents, especially the soil C content. The soil N, P, K, Ca and Mg contents exhibited large fluctuations, but the variation had no obvious regularity and changed with different decay times. The results showed that CWD was a critical component of nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems. Further research is needed to determine the effect of diameter, plant tissue components, secondary wood compounds, and decomposer organisms on the CWD decay rates in the Qinling Mountains, which will be beneficial to clarifying the role of CWD in carbon cycles of forest ecosystems.

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