Conservation status of tropical dry forest remnants in Nicaragua: Do ecological indicators and social perception tally?
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- Tarrasón, D., Urrutia, J.T., Ravera, F. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2010) 19: 813. doi:10.1007/s10531-009-9736-x
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Intensive deforestation is reducing dry tropical forest areas worldwide and increasing its fragmentation. Forest remnants can be the basis for the future recovery of this forest type if appropriate management practices are applied. This requires a better knowledge of their conservation status and the assessment of their perceived value by land users. In this study we compare the structure, species richness and diversity of different types of tropical dry forest remnants in Nicaragua and we assess their conservation status based on a new index: Social simplified Importance Value Index (SsIVI). This index summarizes both ecological indicators and the perception by local stakeholders of the conservation status of the tree species present. Results show that gallery and hillslope forest remnants have higher species richness and diversity than isolated vestigial patches. In all remnants, species richness and diversity is higher in the tree layer than in the regeneration layer. No differences are observed in valorisation among different types of remnants either for the tree layer or for the regeneration layer. In the hillslope forests, where several degrees of disturbance are present, the valorisation decreases with increasing degradation. Results of species composition and forest structure indicate a strong degradation of dry tropical forest remnants in Nicaragua. However, the similar social valorisation of the three types of remnants suggests that they face similar threats but also similar opportunities to be preserved. A decrease in valorisation with increasing degradation warns about the potential loss of the most degraded areas, unless forest restoration is applied.