Oecologia

, 158:579 | Cite as

Tree diversity, composition, forest structure and aboveground biomass dynamics after single and repeated fire in a Bornean rain forest

  • J. W. Ferry Slik
  • Caroline S. Bernard
  • Marloes Van Beek
  • Floris C. Breman
  • Karl A. O. Eichhorn
Conservation Ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

Forest fires remain a devastating phenomenon in the tropics that not only affect forest structure and biodiversity, but also contribute significantly to atmospheric CO2. Fire used to be extremely rare in tropical forests, leaving ample time for forests to regenerate to pre-fire conditions. In recent decades, however, tropical forest fires occur more frequently and at larger spatial scales than they used to. We studied forest structure, tree species diversity, tree species composition, and aboveground biomass during the first 7 years since fire in unburned, once burned and twice burned forest of eastern Borneo to determine the rate of recovery of these forests. We paid special attention to changes in the tree species composition during burned forest regeneration because we expect the long-term recovery of aboveground biomass and ecosystem functions in burned forests to largely depend on the successful regeneration of the pre-fire, heavy-wood, species composition. We found that forest structure (canopy openness, leaf area index, herb cover, and stem density) is strongly affected by fire but shows quick recovery. However, species composition shows no or limited recovery and aboveground biomass, which is greatly reduced by fire, continues to be low or decline up to 7 years after fire. Consequently, large amounts of the C released to the atmosphere by fire will not be recaptured by the burned forest ecosystem in the near future. We also observed that repeated fire, with an inter-fire interval of 15 years, does not necessarily lead to a huge deterioration in the regeneration potential of tropical forest. We conclude that burned forests are valuable and should be conserved and that long-term monitoring programs in secondary forests are necessary to determine their recovery rates, especially in relation to aboveground biomass accumulation.

Keywords

Burned forest regeneration El Nino drought Fire damage Pioneer species Recruitment 

References

  1. Barlow J, Haugaasen T, Peres CA (2002) Effects of ground fires on understorey bird assemblages in Amazonian forests. Biol Conserv 105:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barlow J, Peres CA, Lagan BO, Haugaasen T (2003) Large tree mortality and the decline of forest biomass following Amazonian wildfires. Ecol Lett 6:6–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown S (1997) Estimating biomass and biomass change of tropical forests, FAO forestry paper 134. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  4. Cannon CH, Curran LM, Marshall AJ, Leighton M (2007) Long-term reproductive behavior of woody plants across seven Bornean forest types in the Gunung Palung National Park (Indonesia): suprannual synchrony, temporal productivity and fruiting diversity. Ecol Lett 10:956–969PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ (1999) Forest restoration in abandoned agricultural land: a case study from East Africa. Conserv Biol 13:1301–1311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chave J, Andalo C, Brown S, Cairns MA, Chambers JQ, Eamus D, Folster H, Fromard F, Higuchi M, Kira T, Lescure JP, Nelson BW, Ogawa H, Puig H, Riera B, Yamakura T (2005) Tree allometry and improved estimation of carbon stocks and balance in tropical forests. Oecologia 145:87–99PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chave J, Condit R, Lao S, Caspersen JP, Foster RB, Hubbell SP (2003) Spatial and temporal variation of biomass in a tropical forest: results from a large census plot in Panama. J Ecol 91:240–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cochrane MA (2003) Fire science for rainforests. Nature 421:913–919PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cochrane MA, Alencar A, Schultze MD, Souza CM Jr, Nepstad DC, Lefebvre P, Davidson EA (1999) Positive feedbacks in the fire dynamic of closed canopy tropical forest. Science 284:1832–1835PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cochrane MA, Laurance WF (2002) Fire as a large-scale edge effect in Amazonian forests. J Trop Ecol 18:311–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cochrane MA, Schulze MD (1999) Fire as a recurrent event in tropical forests of the eastern Amazon: effects on forest structure, biomass and species composition. Biotropica 31:2–16Google Scholar
  12. Daws MI, Garwood NC, Pritchard HW (2006) Prediction of desiccation sensitivity in seeds of woody species: a probabilistic model based on two seed traits and 104 species. Ann Bot 97:667–674PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eichhorn KAO (2006) Plant diversity after rain-forest fires in Borneo. Blumea Supplement 18. Backhuys, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  14. Fredericksen NJ, Fredericksen TS (2002) Terrestrial wildlife responses to logging and fire in a Bolivian tropical humid forest. Biodivers Conserv 11:27–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garwood NC (1989) Tropical soil seed banks: a review. In: Leck MA, Parker VT, Simpson RL (eds) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 149–209Google Scholar
  16. Goldammer JG (1989) Natural rain forest fires in eastern Borneo during the Pleistocene and Holocene. Naturwissenschaften 76:518–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goldammer JG (1999) Forest on fire. Science 284:1782–1783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haberle SG, Ledru MP (2001) Correlations among charcoal records of fires from the past 16,000 years in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Central and South America. Quarternary Res 55:97–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hacke UG, Sperry JS, Pockman WT, Davis SD, McCulloh KA (2001) Trends in wood density and structure are linked to prevention of xylem implosion by negative pressure. Oecologia 126:457–461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hiratsuka M, Toma T, Diana R, Hadriyantho D, Morikawa Y (2006) Biomass recovery of naturally regenerated vegetation after the 1998 forest fire in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. JARQ 40:277–282Google Scholar
  21. Hope G, Chokkalingam U, Anwar S (2005) The stratigraphy and fire history of the Kutai peatlands, Kalimantan, Indonesia. Quarternary Res 64:407–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hughes RF, Kauffman JB, Jaramillo VJ (1999) Biomass, carbon, and nutrient dynamics of secondary forests in a humid tropical region of Mexico. Ecology 80:1897–1907Google Scholar
  23. Kuusipalo J, Adjers G, Jafarsidik Y, Otasmo A, Tuomela K, Vuokko R (1995) Restoration of natural vegetation in degraded Imperata cylindrica grassland: understorey development in forest plantations. J Veg Sci 6:205–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nieuwstadt MGL, Sheil D (2005) Drought, fire and tree survival in a Borneo rain forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. J Ecol 93:191–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oey DS (1990) Specific gravity of Indonesian woods and its significance for practical use. Departemen Kehutanan Pengumuman nr. 13. Pusat Penelitian dan Pengembangan Hasil Hutan, BogorGoogle Scholar
  26. Page SE, Siegert F, Rieley JO, Boehm HDV, Jaya A, Limin S (2002) The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia during 1997. Nature 420:61–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Slik JWF (2006a) Estimating species-specific wood density from the genus average in Indonesian trees. J Trop Ecol 22:481–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Slik JWF (2006b) Trees of Sungai Wain. http://nationaalherbarium.nl/sungaiwain/
  29. Slik JWF, van Balen S (2006) Bird community changes in response to single and repeated fires in a lowland tropical rain forest of eastern Borneo. Biodivers Conserv 15:4425–4451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Slik JWF, Bernard CS, Breman FC, Beek M van, Salim A, Sheil D (2008) Wood density as a conservation tool: quantification of disturbance and identification of conservation priority areas in tropical forests. Conserv Biol. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00986.x
  31. Slik JWF, Eichhorn KAO (2003) Fire survival of lowland tropical rain forest trees in relation to stem diameter and topographic position. Oecologia 137:446–455PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Slik JWF, Verburg RW, Kessler PJA (2002) Effects of fire and selective logging on the tree species composition of lowland dipterocarp forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biodivers Conserv 11:85–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ter Steege H (1996) Winphot 5: a program to analyse vegetation indices, light and light quality for hemispherical photographs. Tropenbos Guyana reports 95–2. Tropenbos Guyana Programme, GeorgetownGoogle Scholar
  34. Uhl C, Buschbacher R, Serrao EAS (1988) Abandoned pastures in eastern Amazonia. I. Patterns of plant succession. J Ecol 76:663–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Uhl C, Kauffman JB (1990) Deforestation, fire susceptibility, and potential tree responses to fire in the eastern Amazon. Ecology 71:437–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Walsh RPD (1996) Drought frequency changes in Sabah and adjacent parts of northern Borneo since the late nineteenth century and possible implications for tropical rain forest dynamics. J Trop Ecol 12:385–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. Ferry Slik
    • 1
  • Caroline S. Bernard
    • 2
  • Marloes Van Beek
    • 2
    • 3
  • Floris C. Breman
    • 4
  • Karl A. O. Eichhorn
    • 5
  1. 1.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesMenglunChina
  2. 2.Nationaal Herbarium NederlandLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Centre for Ecosystem StudiesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Royal Museum for Central AfricaRoyal Belgian Institute for Natural SciencesTervurenBelgium
  5. 5.Eichhorn EcologieZeistThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations