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Hyper-abundant lianas as ecological filters for secondary succession in degraded forest remnants

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Ricardo Gomes Cesar
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: Piracicaba.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Pedro Henrique Santin Brancalion; Sergius Gandolfi; Ricardo Augusto Gorne Viani
Advisor: Pedro Henrique Santin Brancalion

The historical human-mediated loss of tropical forest cover has beleaguered significant portions of these biomes in small and degraded forest remnants scattered on the landscape. In this context, ruderal liana species may proliferate and quickly dominate forest canopy, hindering tree individuals and arresting or even reversing forest succession. This study aims at analyzing the ecological barriers that halt forest succession in degraded forest remnants dominated by hyper-abundant lianas, providing ground to develop intervention strategies to restore structure and composition of these remnants and assess the early effects of liana cutting on the dynamic and growth of the forest tree community. We installed 35 plots in a degraded and isolated semideciduous seasonal forest remnant, from which five were installed in less degraded sectors of the forest remnant and 30 were installed in degraded sectors, dominated by hyper-abundant lianas. We chose 20 out of the 30 plots to undergo cutting of all lianas. We compared seed arrival, seedling emergence and establishment and growth of established adult tree individuals among control and liana cutting plots. Tree community parameters were correlated with liana density in order to understand the relation of these two life forms in the degraded forest. Time required, in man-hours, for liana cutting was quantified and correlated with tree and liana community parameters in order to provide ground for estimating labor requirements in similar situations; seedling planting was tested as a complimentary restoration technique. Finally, we assessed the early effects of liana cutting on canopy openness, litter production, tree mortality and carbon stored in the tree community. Lianas do not affect seed arrival or seedling emergence in degraded forest remnants, however, they do increase pioneer seedling mortality (probably through shading); at the same time, established pioneer individuals share habitat with lianas, while non-pioneers have the structure and diversity of their community negatively correlated with liana density. Manhours needed for liana cutting in degraded forest remnants are much higher than estimates for mature forests, and it is inversely correlated with liana density and basal area and positively correlated with tree density and basal area. Early effects of liana cutting included increased canopy openness, reduced litter production and increased carbon uptake by smaller trees. Liana cutting did not affect established trees mortality. Hyper-abundant lianas may stagnate and even reverse forest succession in degraded forest remnants and liana cutting is an effective strategy to recuperate sucessional processes. However, liana cutting must be carried out periodically, given the high resilience of ruderal lianas populations. Seedlings planting had high mortality and it is recommended only when canopy openness is high and density of established tree individuals is low. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 11/14517-0 - Ecological filters for regeneration of pioneer tree species in degraded forests infested by lianas
Grantee:Ricardo Gomes César
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Master