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Title: Drastic erosion in functional attributes of tree assemblages in Atlantic forest fragments of northeastern Brazil
Authors: Santos, Bráulio Almeida
Peres, Carlos A.
Oliveira, Marcondes A.
Grillo, Alexandre S.
Alves-Costa, Cecília P.
Tabarelli, Marcelo
Keywords: Community Composition
Conservation Management
Growth Rate
Habitat Fragmentation
Habitat Type
Policy Making
Soil Erosion
Species Richness
Tropical Forest
Atlantic Coast [brazil]
Atlantic Coast [south America]
South America
Issue Date: 2008
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Biological Conservation
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 141, Número 1, Pags. 249-260
Abstract: The long-term dynamics of plant communities remain poorly understood in isolated tropical forest fragments. Here we test the hypothesis that tropical tree assemblages in both small forest fragments and along forest edges of very large fragments are functionally much more similar to stands of secondary growth (5-65-yr old) than to core primary forest patches. The study was carried out in a severely fragmented landscape of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Nine functional attributes of tree assemblages were quantified by sampling all trees (DBH ≥ 10 cm) within 75 plots of 0.1 ha distributed in four forest habitats: small forest fragments (3.4-79.6 ha), forest edges, second-growth patches, and primary forest interior areas within a large forest fragment (3500 ha). These habitats were markedly different in terms of tree species richness, and in the proportion of pioneer, large-seeded, and emergent species. Age of second-growth stands explained between 31.4% and 88.2% of the variation in the functional attributes of tree assemblages in this habitat. As expected, most traits associated with forest edges and small forest fragments fell within the range shown by early (<25-yr old) and intermediate-aged secondary forest stands (25-45-yr old). In contrast to habitat type, tree assemblage attributes were not affected by vegetation type, soil type and the spatial location of plots. An ordination analysis documented a striking floristic drift in edge-affected habitats. Our results suggest that conservation policy guidelines will fail to protect aging, hyper-fragmented landscapes from drastic impoverishment if the remaining forest patches are heavily dominated by edge habitat. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.09.018
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