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The influence of microhabitat and distance and density of neighborns on the population demography of four woody species

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Carolina Bernucci Virillo
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: Campinas, SP.
Institution: Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Instituto de Biologia
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Flavio Antonio Maës dos Santos; Rafael Silva Oliveira; Marcia Cristina Mendes Marques; Gislene Maria da Silva Ganade; Ivan Schiavini da Silva
Advisor: Flavio Antonio Maës dos Santos

The mechanisms that are responsible for the high tree species diversity in tropical forests have been intensively debated on literature, and among the several proposed mechanisms, two of them have been relatively empirically supported: the density-dependence and the niche differentiation. The aim of this work was to investigate the occurrence of these mechanisms on the Atlantic Ombrophilous Dense Forest, that has a huge plant species diversity, that vary on their abundance, and a high diversity of habitats, what makes this biome an appropriate place to seek for the existence of these mechanisms. We investigated the influence of conspecific density, neighborhood and microhabitat on the demography of four tree species, and we expected these factors to act together on determining the demography of the studied species. On five 0.25 ha area, two on the Lowland Ombrophilous Dense Forest and three on the Lower-montane Ombrophilous Dense Forest, we tagged and measured all the plants of the studied species; the plants were re-censused after two years so we obtained the mortality and recruitment rates. Plants with perimeter at breast height (PBH) > 15 cm were monthly observed to evaluate their reproductive phenology and diameter increment. We evaluated the influence of the density of plants and the number and distance of conspecific neighbors on the demography of the studied species. We also evaluated the relationship of the demographic rates with specific habitats, given by canopy openness and declivity, and of the reproductive phenology and diameter increment with the altitude and the crown illumination index (IC). We found no relationship between the total density of individuals and the mortality or recruitment rates, but on the areas of high abundance we found associations between the dead plants and the other plants of the populations, as well as lower aggregation as we considered bigger size classes, which could be interpreted as evidences of the density dependent processes, indicating that the density or distance-dependent processes are important only on high density situations. We found significant relationships between the number of individuals and declivity for the majority of species, but there were few significant associations with the canopy openness. Mortality, growth and recruitment of plants PBH < 15 cm have few significant correlations with environmental variables (declivity and canopy openness), probably because of the low number of events registered. For two of the studied species, the reproductive phenology was related to the altitude but not with IC, indicating one aspect of the habitat preference. The diameter increment showed great variation on the same altitude, and for two species it was related with IC, but for the other two neither the altitude nor the IC explained the observed variation on growth. We recommend the use of more environmental variables to characterize the microenvironments when seeking for evidence of habitat preference. It's possible that the studied mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and that they act together on determining the demographic processes, and so, influencing together the maintenance of the high tree species diversity on tropical forests. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 06/50014-4 - Dynamic and populational study of four species of tree species in the nuclei Picinguaba and Santa Virgínia, the State Park of Serra do Mar, SP
Grantee:Carolina Bernucci Virillo
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate