, Volume 137, Issue 1, pp 21-29

Regeneration strategies of tree species in the laurel forest of Tenerife (The Canary Islands)

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Abstract

The laurel-forest of the Canary Islands is a montane cloud-forest. In order to gain some knowledge on the processes that maintain tree species diversity, we conducted an analysis of three different laurel-forest plots of the Anaga massif (Tenerife), varying in canopy composition but growing under similar environmental conditions. For each plot we recorded basal area of the canopy trees (h<1.30 m), the density of suckers and seedlings (h>1.30 m), as well as seed-bank composition. The plots have similar regeneration composition, which appears to be independent of differences in canopy composition. Laurus azorica is the most common seedling species, whereas Prunus lusitanica is the most abundant species among suckers and basal shoots. Neither Erica arborea nor Myrica faya, the two main canopy trees in one of the plots, were found in any of the stands as seedlings or suckers, despite their existence as viable seeds in the seed-bank. The regeneration composition and the canopy composition in one of the plots is remarkable different, revealing differents dynamics processes in the three plots. The results suggest the existence of three well-defined ecological groups: pioneer (regeneration primarily by seedlings), non-pioneer (regeneration by seedlings and suckers) and remnant species (regeneration primarily by suckers).These three groups and the effect of small scale disturbances (natural and human-induced), could help to understand the maintenance of tree species richness.