Habitat destruction threatens biodiversity by reducing the amount of available resources and connectivity among geographic areas. For organisms living in fragmented habitats, population persistence may depend on dispersal, which maintains gene flow among fragments and can prevent inbreeding within them. It is centrally important to understand patterns of dispersal for bees living in fragmented areas given the importance of pollination systems and recently documented declines in bee populations. We used population and landscape genetic techniques to characterize patterns of dispersal over a large fragmented area in southern Costa Rica for the orchid bee species Euglossa championi. First, we estimated levels of genetic differentiation among forest fragments as φpt, an analog to the traditional summary statistic F st, as well as two statistics that may more adequately represent levels of differentiation, G'st and Dest . Second, we used a Bayesian approach to determine the number and composition of genetic groups in our sample. Third we investigated how genetic differentiation changes with distance. Fourth, we determined the extent to which deforested areas restrict dispersal. Finally, we estimated the extent to which there were temporal differences in allele frequencies within the same forest fragments. Within years we found low levels of differentiation even over 80 km, and no effect of land use type on level of genetic differentiation. However, we found significant genetic differentiation between years. Taken together our results suggest that there are high levels of gene flow over this geographic area, and that individuals show low site fidelity over time.
Most plant species in tropical forests are pollinated by animals, and yet the diversity and specificity of pollinator assemblages are poorly documented. Here, we investigated pollinator relationships for 11 species of understory herbs in the genus Costus, with the goal of documenting visitation rates and pollinator assemblages among a variety of habitats. For a subset of species, we documented pollinator visitation for multiple years and/or multiple sites to examine temporal and spatial variation in pollinator relationships. Furthermore, we examined the extent to which specialization in pollination systems can contribute to reproductive isolation for sympatric species. Each species was primarily pollinated by either euglossine bees or hummingbirds. Total visitation rates were generally low, averaging 3.2 visits per flower per hour for bee-pollinated species and 0.5 visits per flower per hour for hummingbird-pollinated species. All of the higher elevation species studied were hummingbird-pollinated, while low elevation species were pollinated either by euglossine bees or hummingbirds. Spatial and temporal variation in visitation rates and pollinator identities was minimal. Pollinator specificity was found to contribute strongly to reproductive isolation for the 11 pairwise combinations of sympatric species differing in pollination syndrome, in some cases functioning as a complete barrier to potential pollen flow.
We studied the decomposition of Cyrilla racemiflora logs over a 13-yr period in tropical dry and wet forests in Puerto Rico. The mean mass loss, ratio of soft to hard wood, nutrient concentrations, and the diversity of wood-inhabiting organisms were greater in logs decomposing in the dry forest than in the wet forest. Termites were also more abundant in the logs collected from the tropical dry forest than the tropical wet forest. High moisture content and a low animal diversity on the logs in the wet forest seem to retard wood decay in this habitat. Wood decay rates in the tropical dry forest can be related to the high diversity of species and functional groups of wood-inhabiting organisms.RESUMENEfectuamos un estudio de la descomposición de troncos de Cyrilla racemiflora por un período de 13 años en bosques tropicales secos y húmedos en Puerto Rico. El promedio de pérdida de masa, la proporción de madera blanda a dura, la concentración de nutrientes y la diversidad de organismos en la madera fueron mayor en los troncos descompuestos en el bosque tropical seco que en los troncos del bosque tropical húmedo. El numero de termitas también fue más abundante en los troncos colectados en el bosque tropical seco que en el bosque tropical húmedo. Un alto contenido de humedad y una baja diversidad de organismos en los troncos en el bosque tropical húmedo parecen retardar la descomposición de madera en esta región. La rápida descomposición de madera en el bosque tropical seco puede estar relacionada a la alta diversidad de organismos y de grupos funcionales de los organismos que habitan en su madera.
Figs are a critical resource for many tropical frugivores, yet they often are referred to as low quality fruits. To determine their nutritional value, both as a group and for individual species, we analyzed 14 fig species from Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, for fiber, tannins, lipids, protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, and minerals. Seeds and pulp were analyzed separately. Fig fruit pulp consisted of about one-third digestible components, mostly carbohydrates with some lipids and proteins. Tannin, lignin, and water-soluble carbohydrates showed considerable variation among species, as did fruit size. Figs contained high amounts of amino acids, such as leucine, lysine, valine, and arginine, and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus. One species, Ficus insipida, contained the highest concentrations of almost all amino acids, many minerals, and protein. Small figs had as much nutritional value per gram as large figs. Free-standing figs had higher percentages of protein, complex carbohydrates, and ash than strangler figs, which had higher percentages of water-soluble carbohydrates, tannins, and hemicellulose. The guild of fruit-eating bats on BCI included ten common species with diets dominated by figs. Fecal analyses and captures at ripe fig trees showed a consistent pattern of resource partitioning. Small bats preferentially ate small-fruited and strangler figs while large bats consumed mostly large-fruited and free-standing figs. Small bats most often ate F. bullenei, which has high levels of lipid and carbohydrates, and F. yoponensis, which has high levels of protein. Medium and large bats most often ate F. insipida, a nutritionally superior species; their second most eaten species was F. obtusifolia, in which the large size may make it efficient to eat. Each bat ate a variety of fig species, supporting the idea that although no single species of fig may be sufficient to sustain frugivores, a mix of fig species can provide a complete set of nutrients.
In an old-growth tropical wet forest at La Selva, Costa Rica, we combined radiocarbon (C-14) dating and tree-ring analysis to estimate the ages of large trees of canopy and emergent species spanning a broad range of wood densities and growth rates. We collected samples from the trunks, of 29 fallen, dead individuals. We found that all eight sampled species formed visible growth rings, which varied considerably in distinctiveness. For five of the six species for which we combined wood anatomical studies with C-14-dates (ring ages), the analyses demonstrated that growth rings were of annual formation. The oldest tree we found by direct ring counting was a Hymenolobium mesoamericanum Lima (Papilionaceae) specimen, with an age of ca. 530 years at the time of death. All other sampled individuals, including very large trees of slow-growing species, had died at ages between 200 and 300 years. These results show that, even in an everwet tropical rain forest, tree growth of many species can be rhythmic, with an annual periodicity. This study thus raises the possibility of extending tree-ring analyses throughout the tropical forest types lacking a strong dry season or annual flooding. Our findings and similar measurements from other tropical forests indicate that the maximum ages of tropical emergent trees are unlikely to be much greater than 600 years, and that these trees often die earlier from various natural causes.
Degraded grasslands resulting from intensive land use appear to be highly resistant to tree invasion due to interactions between land use, climate, grazing and fire. We describe long-term patterns of tropical montane forest regeneration into degraded grasslands and analyze their relationships with historical changes in rainfall, grazing and fire in Los Toldos valley (Northwest Argentina), cloud forest life zone (1600 m asl). We used dendrochronological techniques to reconstruct spatial and temporal patterns of Podocarpus parlatorei establishment (the dominant tree species in secondary forests) and grassland fires for the last 150 yr. We assessed current livestock spatial distribution along the valley through feces sampling. Inferred tree establishment patterns (i.e., considering age structure and mortality) were analyzed in relation to temporal and spatial patterns of grazing and fire derived from our own analyses and from government statistics, and to rainfall patterns derived from previous dendrochronological reconstructions. Current grazing intensity was higher close to the local township. Fire occurrence increased with periods of above-average rainfall (higher fuel productivity), and tended to increase with distance to township (less grazing). Tree establishment in grasslands was spatially associated with high grazing intensity and low fire frequency, and temporally associated with periods of high grazing intensity and below-average rainfall. Despite climatic and land-use changes leading to conditions potentially favorable for trees (i.e., more rainfall, less grazing), grasslands persist in this study area, likely due to the direct (saplings burning) and indirect (soil degradation and desiccation) effects of recurrent fires, enhanced by decreasing grazing and increasing rainfall.
Harengula jaguana is a dominant species in the southern Gulf of Mexico. It is a demersal, estuarine-dependent species, distributed throughout the Campeche Sound area (12-54 m). It is found in areas influenced by coastal discharges. The size at first maturity of females is 117 mm total length. Reproduction occurs from February to October in depths 18-36 m. The juveniles are found on the shelf (<20 m) and inside the Terminos Lagoon. Recruitment is in two distinct periods, March–June and August–November, when adults and juveniles migrate to the outer shelf. Greatest abundance is observed in depths of 12-36 m. The biology and ecology of H. jaguana was analyzed in the Campeche Sound to better understand the structure and function of the demersal fish communities. It is a very important species in the trophic dynamics of the ecosystem because it transports matter and energy. A model of the biological pattern for this species in the area is proposed.
Se analizan diversos aspectos de la biología y ccología de Harengula jaguana, especie dominante en el sur del Golfo de México. Esta especie demersal dependiente estuarina sc distribuye en la plataforma continental de la Sonda de Campeche, entre los 12 y 54 m. Las hembras tienen una talla de primera madurez de 117 mm de longitud total (LT). Se reproduce de febrero a octubrc a profundidades de 18-36 m. Los juveniles se encuentran en la plataforma a profundidades menores de 20 m y dentro de la Laguna de Términos. El reclutamiento se presenta en dos periodos: marzo-junio y agosto-noviembre, migrando hacia aguas de mayor profundidad. Las abundancias máximas en biomasa y densidad se presentan alrededor de las isóbatas de 12 y 36 m. For su dependencia estuarina y su dominancia, es una especie de gran importancia en la dinámica trófica del ecosistema al actuar como transportador de materia y energyía entre la plataforma continental de la Sonda de Campeche y la Laguna de Términos.
Deforestation rates were estimated in 270 km2 of lowland moist forest on the eastern slope of the Colombian Andes (300–800 m). Deforestation was quantified by determining areas of pasture, secondary growth, and forest in aerial photographs (1:19,000–1:60,000) taken in the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Mean annual deforestation rate for the 1938–1988 period was 1.5 percent, and ranged from <0.1 percent (1938–1955) to 4.4 percent (1970s–1980s). Between the 1930s and the 1980s, areas covered by pasture and young secondary forest increased from 26–53 percent and from 2–14 percent, respectively. This suggests that, although there are areas with clear signs of forest regeneration, the overall trend is the conversion of mature tropical forests to pastures for cattle ranching.
En un área de 270 km2 de bosque húmedo tropical de tierras bajas localizados en el piedemonte oriental de los Andes colombianos (300-800 m), fué cuantificada la deforestación mediante la determinación de áreas de pastizales, rastrojos y bosques en fotografías aéreas (1:19.000-1:60.000) tomadas en las décadas de los años 1930, 1950, 1960, 1970 y 1980. La tasa media anual de deforestación fue de 1.5 por ciento para el periodo comprendido entre 1938 y 1988, y varió entre menos de 0.1 por ciento (1938-1955) y 4.4 por ciento (1979–1988). Entre 1938 y 1988 las áreas cubiertas por pastizales y rastrojos aumentaron de 26 a 53 por ciento y de 2 a 14 por ciento, respectivamente, lo cual sugiere que a pesar de que hay áreas en proceso de regeneración, la tendencia general es hacia la conversión de bosques para pastizales ganaderos.
Quantifying forest change in the tropics is important because of the role these forests play in the conservation of biodiversity and the global carbon cycle. One of the world's largest remaining areas of tropical forest is located in Papua New Guinea. Here we show that change in its extent and condition has occurred to a greater extent than previously recorded. We assessed deforestation and forest degradation in Papua New Guinea by comparing a land-cover map from 1972 with a land-cover map created from nationwide high-resolution satellite imagery recorded since 2002. In 2002 there were 28,251,967 ha of tropical rain forest. Between 1972 and 2002, a net 15 percent of Papua New Guinea's tropical forests were cleared and 8.8 percent were degraded through logging. The drivers of forest change have been concentrated within the accessible forest estate where a net 36 percent were degraded or deforested through both forestry and nonforestry processes. Since 1972, 13 percent of upper montane forests have also been lost. We estimate that over the period 1990–2002, overall rates of change generally increased and varied between 0.8 and 1.8 percent/yr, while rates in commercially accessible forest have been far higher—having varied between 1.1 and 3.4 percent/yr. These rates are far higher than those reported by the FAO over the same period. We conclude that rapid and substantial forest change has occurred in Papua New Guinea, with the major drivers being logging in the lowland forests and subsistence agriculture throughout the country with comparatively minor contributions from forest fires, plantation establishment, and mining.
Forest closure on the three original Krakatau Islands (Panjang, Rakata, and Sertung) took place ca 1930, about 50 yr after the apparent sterilization of the islands due to volcanic eruptions. Two permanent forest plots were established on each of these islands in 1989. A full enumeration of these plots, of two additional Rakata plots, and of two “mainland”plots from the Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java, was undertaken in 1992. These data provide the first estimates of aboveground biomass from Krakatau. The values reported for Krakatau are below the local West Javan figures, with considerable variation occurring within the islands. In 1992, the fourth Krakatau island, Anak Krakatau, began an eruption sequence which continued through the study period, depositing ash on the study sites of Panjang and Sertung. A further partial survey of these plots in 1994–1995 revealed a significant increase in mortality since the volcanic activity recommenced, with an increase in deaths of larger stems. Although Rakata has not been influenced directly by volcanism, three sites surveyed on Rakata in 1994–1995 have experienced increased tree mortality, in two cases as a consequence of storm damage and in particular, of lightning strikes. Stand dynamics on Krakatau thus appear to be strongly influenced by episodic environmental disturbance with varying degrees of dependence on the volcanic activity of Anak Krakatau.
Tropical ecosystems support a diversity of species and ecological processes that are unparalleled anywhere else on Earth. Despite their tremendous social and scientific importance, tropical ecosystems are rapidly disappearing. To help tropical ecosystems and the human communities dependent upon them better face the challenges of the 21st century, tropical biologists must provide critical knowledge in three areas: (1) the structure and functioning of tropical ecosystems; (2) the nature and magnitude of anthropogenic effects on tropical ecosystems; and (3) the socio-economic drivers of these anthropogenic effects. To develop effective strategies for conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of tropical ecosystems, scientific perspectives must be integrated with social necessities. Three principles for guiding tropical biological research are suggested: (1) broadening the set of concerns; (2) integration of biological knowledge with the social sciences and traditional knowledge; and (3) linking science to policy and action. Four broad recommendations are proposed for immediate action in tropical biology and conservation that are fundamental to all biological and social disciplines in the tropics: (1) assemble and disseminate information on life's diversity in the tropics; (2) enhance tropical field stations and build a worldwide network to link them with tropical field biologists at their field sites; (3) bring the field of tropical biology to the tropics by strengthening institutions in tropical countries through novel partnerships between tropical and temperate zone institutions and scientists; and (4) create concrete mechanisms to increase interactions between tropical biologists, social scientists, and policy makers.
Mangroves are prone to bearing frequently the full brunt of hurricanes and tropical storms. The extent of destruction and early regeneration are widely studied. The purpose of this study was to add a long-term view of mangrove regeneration and assess the potential effects on mangrove horizontal zonation patterns of catastrophic destruction. Hattie, a category five hurricane, hit the Belizean coast in 1961. It passed directly over the Turneffe Atoll where our study area, Calabash Cay, is located. At four sites on this island, we analyzed mangrove forest structure along transects parallel to the shoreline within zones delineated by species dominance and tree height. We propose an index based on the Simpson index of diversity to express changes in the heterogeneity of the species dominance. Physical–chemical parameters and nutrient availability were also measured. The destruction levels were estimated by analysis of the distribution of diameter at breast heights of the bigger trees in the inland zones. Variations in species dominance among sites and zones could be explained by interactions of various factors. Further, different levels of destruction between the two sides of the island had a significant effect on current patterns of species and structural zonation at Calabash. We conclude that disturbance regime in general should be considered as a factor potentially influencing mangrove horizontal zonation patterns.
We compared vegetation structure and species richness across a 56-yr chronosequence of six replicated age classes of dry tropical forest on the island of Providencia, Colombia, in the Southwest Caribbean. Stand age classes were determined using sequential, orthorectified panchromatic aerial photos acquired between 1944 and 1996 and Landsat 7 ETM + satellite imagery from 2000. Along the chronosequence we established 59 plots of 2 × 50 m (0.01 ha) to document changes in species richness, basal area, tree height, stem density, and sprouting ability. All woody trees and shrubs >2.5 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) were censused and measured. Although woody species density reached a peak in stands from 32 to 56 yr old, rarefaction analysis showed that species richness increased linearly with stand age and was highest in stands 56 yr old or greater. Nonparametric, abundance-based estimators of species richness also showed positive and linear associations with age. Basal area and mean tree height were positively associated with age since abandonment, while sprouting ability showed a negative relationship. Our results indicate rapid recovery of woody species richness and structural characteristics along this tropical dry forest chronosequence.
We describe patterns of tree community change along a 700-km transect through terra firme forests of western Amazonia, running from the base of the Andes in Ecuador to the Peru-Brazil border. Our primary question is whether floristic variation at large scales arises from many gradual changes or a few abrupt ones. Data from 54 1-ha tree plots along the transect support the latter model, showing two sharp discontinuities in community structure at the genus level. One is located near the Ecuador-Peru border, where the suite of species that dominates large areas of Ecuadorean forest declines abruptly in importance to the east. This discontinuity is underlain by a subterranean paleoarch and congruent with a change in soil texture. A second discontinuity is associated with the shift from clay to white sand soils near Iquitos. We hypothesize that the first discontinuity is part of an edaphic boundary that runs along the Andean piedmont and causes a transition from tree communities preferring richer, younger soils near the base of the Andes to those preferring poorer, older soils farther east. Because the floristic changes observed at this discontinuity are conserved for large distances to the east and west of it, the discontinuity is potentially key for understanding floristic variation in western Amazonia. The significant floristic turnover at the Ecuador-Peru border suggests that the only large protected area in the region - Ecuador's Yasuní National Park - is not adequate protection for the very diverse tree communities that cover vast areas of northern Peru.
To study the structure and composition of old-growth forest in the Saracá-Taquera National Forest near Porto Trombetas, Brazil, we established 36 0.25 ha plots and described the vegetation. We collected charcoal from the A2 soil horizon of each plot for radiocarbon dating. Although fires have been very rare in this forest during historic times, the presence of charcoal in these soils indicates fire at some earlier period. The ages (conventional radiocarbon age adjusted to 1997) of the charcoal ranged from 177 to 1547 years. These ages, however, did not correlate significantly with any of several measures of biodiversity or stand characteristics. The relative uniformity of the current old-growth forest indicates that either the prehistoric fires were of such low intensity that they had little long-term effect on the vegetation or that the present stands have progressed to near steady state.
Vegetation, seed rain, seed germination, microclimate, and soil physical and chemical parameters were measured in a recently abandoned pasture and adjacent primary rain forest in southern Costa Rica. The goal of this study was to assess the importance of these factors in limiting forest regeneration in abandoned pastures. Seed rain of animal dispersed species decreased dramatically in the pasture >5 m from the forest/pasture edge; fewer wind dispersed seeds fell in the pasture than in the forest, but the difference was much less than for animal dispersed seeds. Percent seed germination of most species studied was similar in the forest and in pasture with grasses; seed germination was lower during the dry season in areas of pasture cleared of grasses. Air temperature, vapor pressure deficit (VPD), and photon flux density (PFD) were much higher in the pasture than in the forest at 1 m above the ground. VPD and PFD at ground level and soil temperature were similar in the pasture and the forest, indicating that pasture grasses strongly modify microclimatic conditions near the soil surface. The lowest gravimetric water content recorded in the pasture during the dry season was 0.5 and leaf relative water contents of the two species measured in the forest and pasture were identical, suggesting that plants in the pasture were not water stressed. Levels of most soil nutrients were lower in the pasture as compared to the forest; however, aboveground and root biomass for seedlings grown in pasture and forest soils did not differ significantly. Although a number of factors impede forest recovery in abandoned pastures, these results suggest that the most important limitation is lack of seed dispersal.
We compared early plant succession in four abandoned pastures of differing age since abandonment and a nearby secondary forest site in northwestern Ecuador. Two 'Open' pastures had no tree canopy covering, and two 'Guava' pastures had a well-developed canopy cover of Psidium guajava. No site had been seeded with pasture grasses. All pastures were compared in a chronological sequence; two were monitored for 18 months. Species richness was consistently higher in Guava sites than in Open sites and it continued to increase over time, whereas it remained static in Open sites. Species richness was highest in secondary forest. Recruitment of tree saplings in Guava sites was lower than in secondary forest; however, it was nearly absent in Open sites. The seed bank contained predominantly herbaceous species at all sites, and was highly dissimilar to aboveground vegetation. Dominance-diversity curves for Guava sites showed a more equitable distribution of species that increased over time. In contrast, dominance-diversity curves for Open sites were static and indicated dominance by a few aggressive species. Soil characteristics among sites were variable; however, a principal components analysis on soils isolated the older Open site from all others. The older Open site had the lowest species richness and was dominated by Baccharis trinervis, an aggressive shrub species. The site appears to be in a state of arrested succession and some form of restorative intervention may be necessary to initiate succession toward a forested condition. Succession in Guava sites appears headed toward secondary forest, whereas it does not in Open sites.
We characterized plant regeneration in four old logging roads (700–1000 m long), 12–17 yr after abandonment, in selectively logged forests in lowland Costa Rica. Sets of 4-m² plots were laid out at 20-m intervals in three distinct microhabitats: road track (topsoil eliminated), road edge (where removed topsoil accumulates on the sides after road construction), and adjacent logged forest. Density of stems ≥ 1 m tall and ≤ 5 cm DBH (included canopy tree, midstory tree, liana, palm, shrub, and tree fern species) was highest in the road edge plots than either the track or logged forest plots. This “edge effect” is presumably due to buried seed germination of light-demanding trees and shrubs after moderate soil disturbance, less compaction, and higher substrate fertility than in road tracks. Species richness was the lowest, but relative dominance the highest, in the track plots of all roads: 6–9 species comprised alone 50 percent of the Importance Value Index (IVI), in contrast to 11–15 and 16–22 species required to reach 50 percent IVI in edge and forest plots, respectively. We found evidence of soil compaction in tracks of three out of four roads which, in addition to low substrate fertility, and initial lack of on-site plant propagules, could explain slower recovery of stem density and species richness compared to edge and logged forest plots. For stems >5 cm and ≤ 20 cm DBH, density and basal area in the track plots averaged about one-fourth of edge and logged forest plot values. We estimated recovery of basal area in road tracks to take at least 80 yr to reach the status found in logged forest, and species richness over an even longer period. We suggest that abandoned logging roads serve as long corridors of relatively uniform and long-lasting floristic and structural characteristics that may confer particular ecological roles in selectively logged forests.
The indirect impacts of Shorea siamensis-logging on the reproductive ecology of Dipterocarpus obtusifolius, a self-incompatible butterfly-, moth-, and bird-pollinated tree, were studied in tropical dry forest in Thailand. Pollinator activity at D. obtusifolius trees and subsequent seed production were recorded in three forest areas subject to differing intensities of S. siamensis extraction. The pollinator and plant understory communities in these areas were also noted. Forest areas subject to high S. siamensis extraction intensities had very high understory flowering plant cover, dominated by the exotic invader Chromolaena odorata. Activity of butterfly pollinators at D. obtusifolius trees decreased in these disturbed areas, although their abundance remained comparable to other forest areas subject to only moderate or no extraction. For sphingid moth pollinators, there was no difference across differentially disturbed forest areas in either abundance or in the proportion bearing pollen. Pollinator activity by birds increased at highly disturbed locations but was not sufficient to offset a decline in overall pollinator activity at D. obtusifolius canopies in areas of heavy 5. siamensis extraction. Thus, extraction of S. siamensis indirectly affected the pollination of D. obtusifolius, primarily by causing changes in the foraging behavior of butterfly pollinators rather than their abundance. A shift in the relative abundance of floral nectar resources from the canopy to the understory, a consequence of 5. siamensis extraction and invasion by C. odorata, led to a parallel shift in foraging location of the principal diurnal pollinators, the butterflies, toward the understory. Despite reduced pollination at disturbed sites, behavioral changes did not translate into a D. obtusifolius seed set effect, possibly because pollination by birds (or moths) at the disturbed site compensated for reduced butterfly pollination.
We evaluated temporal patterns of seedling survival of eight Neotropical tree species generated under multiple abiotic and biotic hazards (vertebrates, disease, litterfall) in the forest understory on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Seedlings were transplanted at first leaf expansion in low densities along a 6-km transect and damage and mortality were recorded for 1 yr. We also planted and monitored small and large artificial seedlings to estimate physical disturbance regimes. During 0–2 mo after transplant, vertebrate consumers of reserve cotyledons caused high mortality of real seedlings, but little damage to artificial seedlings. On real seedlings after 2 mo, disease became an important agent of mortality, despite a decrease in overall mortality rates. Damage by litterfall remained relatively low during the 1-yr study period. Survival ranks among species showed ontogenetic shifts over time, as species changed susceptibility to the mortality agents. Survival after 2 mo was positively correlated with stem toughness, not because species with tough stems were less likely to receive mechanical damage, but because they survived better after receiving mechanical damage. Within each transplant station, artificial seedlings were not good predictors of litterfall damage experienced by real seedlings. Forest-wide litterfall damage level, however, was similar for both real and artificial seedlings (ca 10%/yr), a moderate level compared to other tropical forests. In conclusion, species traits including biomechanical traits interact to create complex temporal patterns of first year seedling survival, resulting in ontogenetic shifts that largely reflect changes in the relative importance of vertebrate consumers relative to other hazards.
The control of vegetative phenology in tropical trees is not well understood. In dry forest trees, leaf abscission may be enhanced by advanced leaf age, increasing water stress, or declining photoperiod. Normally, it is impossible to dissect the effects of each of these variables because most leaves are shed during the early dry season when day length is near its minimum and leaves are relatively old. The 1997 El-Niño Southern Oscillation caused a ten-week long, severe abnormal drought from June to August in the semi-deciduous forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We monitored the effect of this drought on phenology and water status of trees with young leaves and compared modifications of phenology in trees of different functional types with the pattern observed during the regular dry season. Although deciduous trees at dry sites were severely water stressed (Ψstem < -7MPa) and their mesic leaves remained wilted for more than two months, these and all other trees retained all leaves during the abnormal drought. Many trees exchanged leaves three to four months earlier than normal during the wet period after the abnormal drought and shed leaves again during the regular dry season. Irrigation and an exceptional 70 mm rainfall during the mid-dry season 1998/1999 caused bud break and flushing in all leafless trees except dormant stem succulents. The complex interactions between leaf age and water stress, the principal determinants of leaf abscission, were found to vary widely among trees of different functional types.
Las interacciones entre plantas e insectos pueden ser afectadas por la fragmentacion de los hábitats. En este estudio, realizado en el Chaco Serrano de Argentina, investigamos los efectos de la fragmentación sobre la cantidad de semillas abortadas, depredadas y sanas de Acacia aroma y Cercidium praecox. Encontramos que los efectos de la fragmentaci6n fueron diferentes en cada especie. A medida que se redujo el área del fragmento, aumentó el número de semillas abortadas en A. aroma, mientras que la depredación pre-dispersión disminuyó y la cantidad de semillas sanas aumento en C. praecox. El aumento de semillas abortadas en los fragmentos pequeños no produjo un número menor de semillas sanas disponibles para la dispersión. En las dos especies, los niveles máximos de depredacion por parte de brúquidos fueron cercanos al 35 por ciento, mientras que la aborción de semillas no superó el 7 por ciento. Debido a los altos niveles de daño y la especificidad de los brúquidos, los cambios producidos por la fragmentacióon pueden ser muy importantes para las poblaciones de estas dos especies. Los efectos de la fragmentación sobre la polinización y la depredación pre-dispersión de semillas de estas fabáceas pueden generar una mayor disponibilidad de semillas para su posterior dispersión en ambientes fragmentados.
Quantifying ecosystem carbon stocks is vital for understanding the relationship between changes in land use and carbon dioxide emissions. Here, we estimate carbon stocks in an area of miombo woodland in Mozambique, by identifying the major carbon stocks and their variability. Data on the biomass of tree stems and roots, saplings, and soil carbon stocks are reported and compared with other savannas systems around the globe. A new allometric relationship between stem diameter and tree stem and root biomass is presented, based on the destructive harvest of 29 trees. These allometrics are combined with an inventory of 12,733 trees on 58 plots over an area of 27 ha. Ecosystem carbon stocks totaled 110 tC/ha, with 76 tC/ha in the soil carbon pool (to 50 cm depth), 21.2 tC/ha in tree stem biomass, 8.5 tC/ha in tree coarse root biomass, and 3.6 tC/ha in total sapling biomass. Plot-level tree root:stem (R:S) ratio varied from 0.27 to 0.58, with a mean of 0.42, slightly higher than the mean reported for 18 other savanna sites with comparable aboveground biomass (R:S=0.35). Tree biomass (stem+root) ranged from 3.1 to 86.5 tC/ha, but the mean (32.1 tC/ha) was well constrained (95% CI 28–36.6). In contrast, soil carbon stocks were almost uniformly distributed and varied from 32 to 133 tC/ha. Soil carbon stocks are thus the major uncertainty in the carbon storage of these woodlands. Soil texture explained 53 percent of the variation in soil carbon content, but only 13 percent of the variation in woody carbon stocks. The history of disturbance (fire, elephants, logging/charcoal production, and shifting cultivation) is likely to decouple changes in woody carbon stocks from soil carbon stocks, mediated by tree–grass interactions.
Abstract in Portuguese is available at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/btp.
Mature tropical forests are disappearing and secondary forests are becoming more abundant, thus there is an increasing need to understand the ecology and management of secondary forests. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, seasonally dry tropical forests are subject to frequent fire, and early-successional stands are extremely dense. We applied vegetation thinning (removal of all stems < 2 cm in diameter) to hasten secondary succession and open the understory to reduce the fire ladder in an 11-yr-old stand. We quantified the effect of vegetation thinning on above- and belowground carbon over 5 yr. Aboveground carbon included all standing vegetation and belowground carbon included fine roots and organic carbon in the Oi, Oe, and Oa soil horizons. Trees with diameter of 2–10 cm and > 10 cm had higher carbon accumulation rates in thinned plots than in control plots. Carbon stored in the Oi-horizon and the Oe > 2 mm fraction remained significantly higher in thinned plots even 5 yr after treatment. Carbon in fine roots was significantly higher in thinned plots, and radiocarbon (¹⁴C) data suggest that fine roots in thinned plots were recently produced in comparison with fine roots in control plots. We did not find significant differences in total ecosystem carbon after 5 yr (126 ± 6 and 136 ± 8 Mg C/ha, respectively). These results suggest rapid carbon recovery and support the hypothesis that young tropical forests thinned to hasten succession and reduce the fire hazard may have only a short-term negative impact on carbon accumulation in vegetation and soils.
Among their effects on forest structure and carbon dynamics, hurricanes frequently create large-scale canopy gaps that promote secondary growth. To measure the accumulation of aboveground biomass (AGBM) in a hurricane damaged forest, we established permanent plots 4 mo after the landfall of Hurricane Joan on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in October 1988. We quantified AGBM accumulation in these plots by correlating diameter measurements to AGBM values using a published allometric regression equation for tropical wet forests. In the first measurement year following the storm, AGBM in hurricane-affected plots was quite variable, ranging from 26 to 153 Mg/ha, with a mean of 78 (±15) Mg/ha. AGBM was substantially lower than in two control plots several kilometers outside the hurricane's path (331 ±15 Mg/ha). Biomass accumulation was slow (5.36 ± 0.74 Mg/ha/yr), relative to previous studies of forest regeneration following another hurricane (Hugo) and agricultural activity. We suggest that large-scale, homogenous canopy damage caused by Hurricane Joan impeded the dispersal and establishment of pioneer trees and led to a secondary forest dominated by late successional species that resprouted and survived the disturbance. With the relatively slow rate of biomass accumulation, any tightening in disturbance interval could reduce the maximum capacity of the living biomass to store carbon.
Allometric equations for the estimation of tree volume and aboveground biomass in a tropical humid forest were developed based on direct measurements of 19 individuals of seven tree species in Northern Costa Rica. The volume and the biomass of the stems represented about two-thirds of the total volume and total aboveground biomass, respectively. The average stem volume varied between 4 and 11 Mg/tree and the average total aboveground biomass ranged from 4 to 10 mg/tree. The mean specific gravity of the sampled trees was 0.62 ± 0.06 (g/cm3). The average biomass expansion factor was 1.6 ± 0.2. The best-fit equations for stem and total volume were of logarithmic form, with diameter at breast height (R2 = 0.66-0.81) as an independent variable. The best-fit equations for total aboveground biomass that were based on combinations of diameter at breast height, and total and commercial height as independent variables had R2 values between 0.77 and 0.87. Models recommended for estimating total aboveground biomass are based on diameter at breast height, because the simplicity of these models is advantageous. This variable is easy to measure accurately in the field and is the most common variable recorded in forest inventories. Two widely used models in literature tend to underestimate aboveground biomass in large trees. In contrast, the models developed in this study accurately estimate the total aboveground biomass in these trees.
Anthropogenic activities have accelerated the rate of global loss of biodiversity, making it more important than ever to understand the structure of biodiversity hotspots. One current focus is the relationship between species richness and aboveground biomass (AGB) in a variety of ecosystems. Nonetheless, species diversity, evenness, rarity, or dominance represent other critical attributes of biodiversity and may have associations with AGB that are markedly different than that of species richness. Using data from large trees in four environmentally similar sites in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico, we determined the shape and strength of relationships between each of five measures of biodiversity (i.e., species richness, Simpson's diversity, Simpson's evenness, rarity, and dominance) and AGB. We quantified these measures of biodiversity using either proportional biomass or proportional abundance as weighting factors. Three of the four sites had a unimodal relationship between species richness and AGB, with only the most mature site evincing a positive, linear relationship. The differences between the mature site and the other sites, as well as the differences between our richness-AGB relationships and those found at other forest sites, highlight the crucial role that prior land use and severe storms have on this forest community. Although the shape and strength of relationships differed greatly among measures of biodiversity and among sites, the strongest relationships within each site were always those involving richness or evenness.
Sediment-rich rivers seasonally flood central Amazonian várzea forests, leading to periodic anoxic conditions in the rhizosphere and requiring morphological and structural adaptations, such as aboveground root systems. We investigated some possible relationships between root types and environmental factors in forest plots covering 3.1 ha of várzea in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, Brazil. Digital elevation models of the study sites were obtained; sedimentation and soil texture were investigated to check relationship between position of trees on the flood gradient, soil conditions, and aboveground root systems. Different types of aboveground roots were closely related to flooding duration and habitat dynamics. Species subjected to higher and more prolonged floods tended to produce more aboveground roots than species subjected to lower and shorter inundations. Plank-buttressing species increased with decreasing flood height and/or flood duration, and with increasing growth height and basal area. Habitats inundated for long periods were dominated by species with low growth heights and low basal areas, which formed stilt roots and aerial roots. Root system and sediment deposition showed a close relationship, plank buttressing being more common in sites subjected to lower sediment rates. In the disturbed sites close to the main river channel colonized by pioneer species, the occurrence of buttresses was lower than in less disturbed climax stages. No clear relationship was found between root systems and sediment grain sizes.
Species composition, number of emerging seedlings, species diversity and functional group of the soil seed banks, and the influence of grazing on the similarity between the soil seed banks and aboveground vegetation, were studied in 2008 and 2009 in a semi-arid savanna of Ethiopia. We tested whether the availability of persistent seeds in the soil could drive the transition from a degraded system under heavy grazing to healthy vegetation with ample perennial grasses. A total of 77 species emerged from the soil seed bank samples: 21 annual grasses, 12 perennial grasses, 4 herbaceous legumes, 39 forbs, and 1 woody species. Perennial grass species dominated the lightly grazed sites, whereas the heavily grazed sites were dominated by annual forbs. Heavy grazing reduced the number of seeds that can germinate in the seed bank. Species richness in the seed bank was, however, not affected by grazing. With increasing soil depth, the seed density and its species richness declined. There was a higher similarity in species composition between the soil seed bank and aboveground vegetation at the lightly grazed sites compared with the heavily grazed sites. The mean similarity between the seed banks and aboveground vegetation was relatively low, indicating the effect of heavy grazing. Moreover, seeds of perennial grasses were less abundant in the soil seed banks under heavy grazing. We concluded that restoration of grass and woody species from the soil seed banks in the heavily grazed areas could not be successful in semi-arid savannas of Ethiopia.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has become the focus of climate change mitigation initiatives such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, but defensible estimates of forest carbon are lacking. Here we present a methodology for estimating aboveground forest carbon, and apply it to a large Permanent Sample Plot system maintained by Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute. We report the first estimates of forest carbon in lowland tropical forest in PNG. Average aboveground carbon in stems >10 cm diam. for 115 selectively harvested 1-ha plots in lowland tropical forest was 66.3±3.5 Mg C/ha (95% CI) while for 10 primary forest plots the average was 106.3±16.2 Mg C/ha. We applied ratios based on field observations, in-country studies, and the literature to estimate unmeasured pools of aboveground carbon (stems <10 cm diam., fine litter and coarse woody debris). Total aboveground carbon was estimated at 90.2 and 120.8 Mg C/ha in selectively harvested and primary lowland forest, respectively. Our estimate for primary tropical forest is lower than biome averages for tropical equatorial forest, and we hypothesize that frequent disturbances from fire, frost, landslides, and agriculture are limiting carbon stock development. The methodology and estimates presented here will assist the PNG government in its preparedness for mitigation initiatives, are of interest to communities that are seeking to participate in voluntary carbon markets, and will encourage transparency and consistency in the estimation of forest carbon.
Honey-making bee colonies in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park were investigated with Batwa Pygmies locating 228 nests of Apis and five stingless bees (Meliponini). The relative importance of predation, food supply, nesting site, and elevation affecting abundance were studied for meliponines in particular. Nest predation and overall nest abundance had no correlation with elevation along a 1400 m gradient, nor did flowering phenology or pollen collection. Many suitable, large trees were unoccupied by bee nests. In 174 ha of forest plots, 2 Meliponula lendliana, 13 M. nebulata, 16 M. ferruginea, 16 M. bocandei, and 20 Apis mellifera adansonii nests occurred, suggesting a habitat-wide density of 39 nests/km2. Compared to other studies, Ugandan Meliponini were uncommon (0.27 colonies/ha, tropical mean = 1.9/ha), while Apis mellifera was numerous (0.12 nests/ha, tropical mean = 0.06/ha), despite park policy allowing humans to exploit Apis. Meliponine colony mortality from predators averaged 12 percent/yr and those near ground were most affected. Tool-using humans and chimpanzees caused 82 percent of stingless bee nest predation. Selective factors affecting nest heights and habit may include auditory hunting by predators for buzzing bees, and indirect mutualists such as termites that leave potential nesting cavities. Mobility and free-nesting by honey bee colonies should enable rapid community recovery after mortality, especially in parks where human honey hunting is frequent, compared to sedentary and nest-site-bound Meliponini.
We studied avian foraging at two shaded coffee plantations in Ciales, Puerto Rico. Both coffee plantations contained patches of second-growth forest but differed in shade types; one was a rustic plantation with a species-diverse shade including many fruiting plant species and the other was a commercial polyculture shaded almost solely by Inga vera. We quantified foraging activity of five fruit-eating bird species (Euphonia musica, Loxigillaportoricensis, Nesospingusspeculifirus, Spinetalisportoricensis, and Vireo altiloquous) and monthly fruit abundance in the coffee plantation and adjacent second-growth forest habitats at each site. Fruits comprised more than 50 percent of the diets for four of five focal bird species. We found a significant difference in the number of foraging records for focal bird species between coffee and forest habitats in the commercial polyculture but found few differences between these habitats in the rustic coffee farm. Overall, foraging activity was positively correlated with the abundance of fruits across study sites. Bird foraging was concentrated on plant species in the genera Cecropia, Miconia, Schefflera, Phoradendron, and Guarea, which together accounted for over 50 percent of frugivory records. Plant species in such genera fruited over prolonged time periods and provided birds with a fairly constant fruit supply. Our findings underscore the importance of fruiting plant species in making coffee plantations suitable habitat for birds and suggest that native fruiting plants be incorporated in coffee farms for avian conservation.
The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) is an altitudinal migrant that nests in high elevation cloud forests and migrates toward lower areas during the summer rainy season. It has been suggested that its migratory movements are related to the abundance of ripe Lauraceae fruits. We studied the quetzal diet during two consecutive years, as well as changes in fruit abundance of the plant species on which the bird feeds at El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, southeastern Mexico. The quetzal was observed feeding on 32 plant species; of these, 24 are new records in its diet. We chose 20 of these 32 species and studied their fruit phenology for two years in order to describe the relationship between fruit and quetzal abundance. Our results showed that quetzal abundance in the breeding area was correlated with the total number of fruiting species, whereas the correlation between quetzal abundance and the number of fruiting Lauraceae species was only marginal. Additionally, a correlation test showed that quetzal abundance was marginally correlated with total fruit availability (total no. of fruits per month); however, the correlation between quetzal abundance and the number of fruits in the Lauraceae was not significant. Our results suggest that the dynamics of food resources may be playing a major role in the quetzal's migratory behavior. Knowing the bird's diet may aid in characterizing the type of habitat adequate for its conservation. Our observations in this respect suggest that conservation efforts to preserve this bird species should concentrate on the protection of its habitat, including both breeding and nonbreeding (migration) locations.
The epiphytic Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus complex) has a large basket-shaped rosette that accumulates leaf litter. We investigated the role of these ferns in supporting invertebrate populations in the primary lowland dipterocarp forest of Danum Valley, Sabah, Malaysia. Ferns were divided into three size classes: large (rosette diameter >60 cm), intermediate (30–60 cm), and small (<30 cm). Seven hectares of forest were surveyed: the canopy had a mean density of 30 large ferns/ha and 20 intermediate ferns/ha. Six large and five intermediate ferns were removed from the crowns of Parashorea tomentella (Dipterocarpaceae) at heights between 39 and 52 m. The largest ferns had fresh weights of ca 200 kg. The mean animal abundance in large and intermediate ferns was 41,000 and 8000, respectively. Termites and ants represented at least 90 percent of the abundance in these ferns. Of die 11 ferns, 4 contained a nest of Hospitalitermes rufus (Nasutitermitinae), while another contained a nest of an undescribed species of Hospitalitermes. An additional 56 small ferns were removed from die low canopy (2–6 m above the forest floor), of which only 1 contained a termite nest (Nasutitermes neoparvus). These results suggest that Bird's Nest Ferns contain ca 0.5 million termites/ha and contribute almost one ton (dry mass) of suspended soil and plant material/ha. Five of the trees containing large ferns were fogged immediately before the removal of die ferns. From these samples we were able to estimate the total number of animals in each tree crown. When each estimate was added to die abundance in each fern, the results suggested that a single large fern may contain from 7 to 93 percent of die total number of invertebrates in die crown. Although these results must be treated with caution because of die small sample size, they have important implications for studies of canopy invertebrates.
Male euglossine bees were sampled with chemical baits every two months from September 1997 to July 1999 at nine sites in the Desengano mountain range, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Four sites were located in Atlantic Forest mature second growth, two sites in disturbed forest, and three sites in forest fragments of 200, 156, and 14 ha, respectively. We collected 3653 male euglossine bees from at least 21 species. Analyses of variance indicated no differences among the three habitat types for total number of bees, and 5 of the 6 dominant species. Bootstrapping indicated significant variation in species richness and diversity for some sites, but there was no clear indication of differences among habitats. Similarity as measured with the Morisita–Horn index was inversely related to distance between sites, but relatively high for most site combinations. These results suggest that the euglossine bee community in the three habitats was essentially the same. Although some species were associated with each habitat type, most appeared to respond to temporal local conditions. Our results do not support the hypothesis that forest fragmentation or habitat alteration reduces abundance and diversity of euglossine bees.
We investigated the relationships among interstitial salinity, leaf sclerophylly, plant vigor, and population density for the leaf galling insect Cecidomyia avicenniae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on its host plant Avicennia germinans (Avicenniaceae). Sampling was done in six mangrove stands and in one varzea forest of Maranhäo, northeast Brazil. At each site, ten shoots were randomly taken on five A. germinans trees. From each shoot we counted the total number of galls and recorded the shoot length (cm). We also recorded the average length, width, total area, and biomass of leaves per shoot. Leaf sclerophylly was quantified by leaf biomass per unit area (g/cm²). Samples of interstitial water were taken by a 1.3–cm PVC tube with 80 cm of depth, and salinity (ppt) was measured with a refractometer. Leaf sclerophylly showed a positive relationship with interstitial salinity (= 0.77, P 0.05). We also observed positive relationships between gall density per unit of leaf area (cm²) and salinity (r = 0.36, P 0.05), and between gall density and leaf sclerophylly (r = 0.40, P 0.05). The salinity and the leaf sclerophylly together explained 22 percent of the variation in gall density of C. avicenniae, We found a negative relationship between the number of galls per centimeter and shoot length (R²= 0.50, P 0.05). Thus, longer shoots of A. germinans showed lower gall density. Our results suggest that the gall density of C. a.vicenniae on A. germinans is affected by the salinity of host plant habitat and by leaf sclerophylly along an interstitial salinity gradient.
Although fire is frequent in African savanna ecosystems and may cause considerable loss of nitrogen (N), N2-fixing herbaceous legumes—which could be expected to benefit from low N conditions—are usually not abundant. To investigate possible reasons for this scarcity, we conducted a pot experiment using two common plants of humid African savannas as model species, the legume Cassia mimosoides and the C4 grass Hyperthelia dissoluta. These species were grown at different levels of water, N and phosphorus (P), both in monoculture and in competition with each other. In the monocultures, yields were significantly increased by the combined addition of N and P in pots receiving high water supply. In pots with interspecific competition, the legume grew poorly unless P was added. Foliar δ15N values of legume plants grown in mixtures were considerably lower than those in monocultures, suggesting that rates of symbiotic N-fixation were higher in the presence of the grass. Grass δ15N values, however, were also lower in mixtures, while N concentrations were higher, indicating a rapid transfer of N from the legume to the grass. We conclude that the main reason for the low abundance of C. mimosoides is not low P availability as such, but a greater ability of H. dissoluta to compete for soil N and P, and a much higher N-use efficiency. If other C4 grasses have a similar competitive advantage, it could explain why herbaceous legumes are generally sparse in African savannas. We encourage others to test these findings using species from other types of savanna vegetation.
We studied three different size classes of liana abundance representing proxies for three different life stages and aimed to identify the sequence of ecological filters that have led to current patterns of liana abundance. We tested the relationship between vegetation structure (including antagonistic support types) and soil texture on liana abundance, using 40 plots (1 and 0.25 ha) set at least 1 km apart, and distributed over 64 km2 in a Central Amazonian terra firme forest. Three support types were considered: palms, thin trees and an index of vegetation structure. Liana size classes responded hierarchically to ecological filters: larger size classes were progressively less associated with the environmental variables, while different aspects of vegetation structure were related to individual size classes. This hierarchical pattern suggests that selection mechanisms change throughout liana life cycles. Our results show that vegetation structure is an important predictor of liana abundance at a mesoscale and highlights the importance of considering the spatial structure in studies of tropical liana communities.
Abstract in Portuguese is available at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/btp.
Understanding the impact of hunting on wildlife populations is crucial to achieving sustainability and requires knowledge of prey abundance responses to different levels of exploitation. While the abundance of primates has been shown to respond independently to hunting and habitat, habitat is rarely considered simultaneously when evaluating the impacts of hunting. Furthermore, the importance of these two factors in determining the abundance of other species has not been well investigated. We evaluate the independent effects of hunting and habitat on the abundance of a diverse assemblage of species, using a series of predictions and data from a study in Equatorial Guinea. Line transect surveys in sites of varying hunting intensity and habitat, and weekly interviews with hunters on current hunting effort in each site, were conducted. We also consider the role of past hunting, and discuss the interrelationships between hunting and habitat variables. We show that for primates, hunting is important in determining abundance, while for rodents and duikers, habitat is more important. Our findings show that the effects of hunting and habitat on abundance vary greatly between species, are often confounded and require an approach that isolates their independent effects to determine the true impact of hunting. Conservation managers must consider and incorporate habitat heterogeneity when managing hunting systems, taking into account the way in which the relative importance of these factors can vary between species.
Shaded coffee agroecosystems traditionally have few pest problems potentially due to higher abundance and diversity of predators of herbivores. However, with coffee intensification (e.g., shade tree removal or pruning), some pest problems increase. For example, coffee leaf miner outbreaks have been linked to more intensive management and increased use of agrochemicals. Parasitic wasps control the coffee leaf miner, but few studies have examined the role of predators, such as ants, that are abundant and diverse in coffee plantations. Here, we examine linkages between arboreal ant communities and coffee leaf miner incidence in a coffee plantation in Mexico. We examined relationships between incidence and severity of leaf miner attack and: (1) variation in canopy cover, tree density, tree diversity, and relative abundance of Inga spp. shade trees; (2) presence of Azteca instabilis, an arboreal canopy dominant ant; and (3) the number of arboreal twig-nesting ant species and nests in coffee plants. Differences in vegetation characteristics in study plots did not correlate with leaf miner damage perhaps because environmental factors act on pest populations at a larger spatial scale. Further, presence of A. instabilis did not influence presence or severity of leaf miner damage. The proportion of leaves with leaf miner damage was significantly lower where abundance of twig-nesting ants was higher but not where twig-nesting ant richness was higher. These results indicate that abundance of twig-nesting ants in shaded coffee plantations may contribute to maintenance of low leaf miner populations and that ants provide important ecosystem services in coffee agroecosystems.
There is much interest in ways to exploit tropical timber without greatly changing forest processes and diversity. To achieve this, it is necessary to know the maximum logging intensity that can be used and how long the forest takes to recover from logging. Because little is known about the effects of selective logging on non-timber plant species, we examined the effects of logging intensity and time after logging on the diversity and abundance of flowering and fruiting understory plants in a Central Amazonian forest near Manaus, Brazil. Logging was carried out experimentally at varying intensities in eight 4 ha plots in 1987 and three plots in 1993. Logging intensity ranged between 14 and 45 m3/ha of extracted timber. Three plots were left as controls. Each month, from October 1996 to September 1998, we recorded the number of individuals and species of herbs, shrubs, small trees, and small palms that were flowering and fruiting in six transects per plot. We found 107 species flowering and 111 species fruiting. The abundance of flowering plants was affected by time after logging, but not by the intensity of logging. The abundance of fruiting plants was not related either to time after logging or logging intensity. Richness of flowering and fruiting plants was related to time after logging, but not to the intensity of logging. The results indicate that selective logging, at the intensities and scale analyzed, does not cause reductions in flower and fruit production by the understory community. Both quantity and quality of resources for animals are maintained and possibly even increased in logged areas, shortly after logging takes place. As the levels of reproduction in plots logged 11 years before remained close to those in controls, maintenance of the understory community does not seem to be problematical.
We evaluated the temporal and spatial patterns of abundance and the amount of damage caused by gall-inducing insects (GII) in deciduous and riparian habitats in a seasonal tropical dry forest in Mexico. Plants occurring in these habitats differ in their phenology and moisture availability. Deciduous habitats are seasonal and xeric, while riparian habitats are aseasonal and mesic. We found 37 GII species and each one was associated with a specific plant species. In total, 19 species (51.3%) were present in deciduous habitats, 13 species (35.2%) in riparian habitats, and only 5 species (13.5%) occurred in both. Abundance and leaf damage by GII were greater in deciduous than in riparian habitats during the wet season. For each GII species that occurred in both habitats, host plant species supported greater abundance and leaf damage by GII in deciduous habitats during the wet season. These results indicate a greater association of GII species with host plants in deciduous than in riparian habitats during the wet season. In riparian habitats, 11 plant species (61.1%) had greater density of GII in the dry than in the wet season. Similarly, leaf damage by GII was significantly greater in the dry than in the wet season in riparian habitats for 12 plant species (66.7%). Dry forest plants of riparian habitats presented two peaks of leaf-flushing: GII colonized leaves produced in the first peak at the beginning of the wet season, and accumulated or recolonized leaves in the second peak at the beginning of the dry season. The levels of leaf damage by GII detected in this study in the rainy season were considerably higher than those obtained for folivorous insects in other neotropical forests, suggesting that this GII guild might have an important impact on their host plant species in this tropical community.
We used a standard sampling protocol to measure elevational patterns of species richness and abundance of eusocial paper wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Costa Rica. The sample transect of six sites spanned approximately 2000 m in elevation from lowland to montane forest. Species accumulation curves and species richness estimates both document a low elevation peak in paper wasp species richness at 50 and 300 m asl, with a decline in species richness at higher elevations. Comparison of species composition among elevations revealed strong species turnover from a rich lowland fauna to a depauperate, but distinct, montane fauna. We also observed a general trend toward a greater abundance of paper wasps at higher elevations, a pattern not usually observed in eusocial insects. Army ant species that prey on paper wasps declined in abundance with elevation across the sample transect, a pattern that has been observed at other sites. We discuss the possibility that elevational changes in predation pressure affect variation in paper wasp abundance and species richness. Eusocial paper wasp species employ one of two modes of colony founding, independent and swarm founding. We found that the total abundance of individual swarm-founding wasps was higher at all elevations than the abundance of independent-founding wasps, supporting previous suggestions that Neotropical swarm founders are more successful ecologically.
This study reports extraordinarily high density estimates for the wild pig (Sus scrofa) from an aseasonal tropical forest site within the species'native range. At Pasoh Forest Reserve, a 2500 ha area of lowland dipterocarp rain forest in Peninsular Malaysia, line transects were used to estimate pig density from May to October in 1996 and 1998. In 1996, 44 sightings of S. scrofa consisting of 166 individuals were recorded along 81 km of transects. In 1998, 39 sightings documented 129 individuals along 79.9 km of transects. Estimated population density was 47.0 pigs/km2 in 1996 and 27.0 pigs/km2- in 1998. Sus scrofa biomass in this forest was estimated at 1837 kg/km2 and 1346 kg/ km2 in 1996 and 1998, respectively. Differences between years were attributed to changes in the density of young pigs, coincident with a mast-seeding year of dipterocarp trees in 1996. Pig densities at Pasoh Forest Reserve were much higher than at other forest locations within the species' native range in Europe and Asia. Because Pasoh Forest Reserve is a forest fragment, two factors likely account for the extremely high pig densities: (1) local extinction of natural predators (mainly tigers and leopards) and (2) an abundant year-round food supply of African oil palm fruits from extensive plantations bordering the reserve.