Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 123, Issue 6, pp 751–762 | Cite as

Regeneration pattern of primary forest species across forest-field gradients in the subtropical Mountains of Southwestern China

  • Xiao-Shuang Li
  • Wen-Yao LiuEmail author
  • Jun-Wen Chen
  • Cindy Q. Tang
  • Chun-Ming Yuan
Regular Paper


Evergreen broad-leaved forest is now gradually degraded and fragmented, and there is an increase in the amount of habitat edges as a result of long-term human activity. However, the role of edges in the regeneration of primary forest species is poorly understood. After 20 years of the edge creation, we analyzed primary forest species distribution and abundance, and changes in floristic composition, vegetation structure across forest-field gradients in Ailao Mountain, SW China. Our results revealed that there was a higher abundance and richness of primary species, late secondary species and thorny lianas at the distances 0–50 m than at the distances more than 50 m from the edge into the forest exterior. At the distances >50 m, no individuals of dominant canopy trees Lithocarpus xylocarpus, Castanopsis wattii, and L. jingdongensis were found, whereas the abundance of early pioneer shrub species and herbaceous cover was significantly greater. The richness of primary species showed a decrease with increasing distances from the forest edge to the exterior, particularly of medium-seeded primary species showing a drastic decrease. Moreover, no large-seeded primary species occurred at the distances >60 m. This study indicates that the forest edge as a buffer zone may be in favor of primary species regeneration. A dense shrub and herb layer, and seed dispersal may be the major factors limiting the forest regeneration farther from the forest edge. Therefore, to facilitate forest recovery processes, management should give priority to the protection of buffer zones of this forest edge.


Vegetation structure Primary species Forest edge Regeneration Evergreen broad-leaved forest 



This work was supported by Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30771705), the Knowledge Innovation Program (No. KSCX2-YW-N066-03), and the Program of Hundreds of Talent Scientists of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (BRJH2002098). The Management Authority of the Ailao Mountain Nature Reserve is thanked for granting permission to undertaken the research reported. Li Dawen, Yang Wenzheng, Qi Jinhua, and other staff members of the Ailao Mountain Forest Ecosystem Research Station are thanked for their help in the field work. We also thank Prof. Min Cao and Dr. Luxiang Lin whose valuable comments helped us to improve the paper greatly.

Supplementary material

10265_2010_326_MOESM1_ESM.doc (436 kb)
Table S1 (DOC 436 kb)


  1. Abe M, Miguchi H, Nakashizuka T (2001) An interactive effect of simultaneous death of dwarf bamboo, canopy gap, and predatory rodents on beech regeneration. Oecologia 127:281–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aide TM, Cavelier J (1994) Barriers to tropical lowland forest restoration in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Restor Ecol 2:219–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrieta S, Suárez F (2005) Spatial dynamics of Ilex aquifolium populations seed dispersal and seed bank: understanding the first steps of regeneration. Plant Ecol 177:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bakker ES, Olff H, Vandenberghe C, De Maeyer K, Smit R, Gleichman JM, Vera FWM (2004) Ecological anachronisms in the recruitment of temperate light-demanding tree species in wooded pastures. J Appl Ecol 41:571–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baskin CC, Baskin JM (2008) Advances in understanding seed dormancy at the whole-seed level: an ecological, biogeographical and phylogenetic perspective. Acta Bot Yunnanica 30:279–294Google Scholar
  6. Benítez-Malvido J (1998) Impact of forest fragmentation on seedling abundance in a tropical rain forest. Conserv Biol 12:380–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Benítez-Malvido J (2003) Influence of edge exposure on tree seedling species recruitment in tropical rain forest fragments. Biotropica 35:530–541Google Scholar
  8. Benítez-Malvido J, Martínez-Ramos M (2003) Impact of forest fragmentation on understory plant species richness in Amazonia. Conserv Biol 17:389–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruna EM (1999) Seed germination in rainforest fragments. Nature 40:139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caccia FD, Ballaré CL (1998) Effects of tree cover, understory vegetation, and litter on regeneration of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) in southwestern Argentina. Can J For Res 28:683–692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cadenasso ML, Pickett STA (2001) Effect of edge structure on the flux of species into forest interiors. Conserv Biol 15:91–97Google Scholar
  12. Cardosa da Silva JM, Uhl C, Murray G (1996) Plant succession, landscape management, and the ecology of frugivorous birds in abandoned Amazonian pastures. Conserv Biol 10:491–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cavallin N, Vasseur L (2008) Potential for red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) establishment from natural seed dispersal in old fields adjacent to forest stands. Plant Ecol 199:33–41Google Scholar
  14. Chapman CA, Chapman LJ (1999) Forest restoration in abandoned agricultural land: a case study from east Africa. Conserv Biol 13:1301–1311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coomes DA, Allen RB, Forsyth DM, Lee WG (2003) Factors preventing the recovery of New Zealand forests following control of invasive deer. Conserv Biol 17:450–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coops H (1988) Occurrence of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa L) in the area of Molsbjerg and the effect of cattle and sheep grazing on its growth. Nat Jutl 15:169–176Google Scholar
  17. Dew JL, Wright P (1998) Frugivory and seed dispersal by four species of primates in Madagascar’s eastern rain forest. Biotropica 30:425–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Díaz M (1992) Rodent seed predation in cereal crop areas of central Spain: effects of physiognomy, food availability and predation risk. Ecography 15:77–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dickerman MB, Duncan DP, Gallegos CM, Clark FB (1981) Forestry today in China: report of a month’s tour by a team of American foresters. J For 79:71–75Google Scholar
  20. Didham RK, Lawton JH (1999) Edge structure determines the magnitude of changes in microclimate and vegetation structure in tropical forest fragments. Biotropica 31:17–30Google Scholar
  21. Duncan RS, Duncan VE (2000) Forest succession and distance from forest edge in an Afro-Tropical Grassland. Biotropica 32:33–41Google Scholar
  22. Euskirchen ES, Chen J, Bi R (2001) Effects of edges on plant communities in a managed landscape in northern Wisconsin. For Ecol Manage 148:93–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferreira LV (1997) Effects of the duration of flooding on species richness and floristic composition in three hectares in the Jaú National Park in floodplain forests in central Amazonia. Biodivers Conserv 6:1353–1363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ferreira LV, Laurance WF (1997) Effects of forest fragmentation on mortality and damage of selected trees in central Amazonia. Conserv Biol 11:797–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fraver S (1994) Vegetation responses along edge-to-interior gradients in the mixed hardwood forests of the Roanoke river basin, North Carolina. Conserv Biol 8:822–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gehlhausen SM, Schwartz MW, Augspurger CK (2000) Vegetation and microclimatic edge effects in two mixed-mesophytic forest fragments. Plant Ecol 147:21–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gerhardt K (1993) Tree seedling development in tropical dry abandoned pasture and secondary forest in Costa Rica. J Veg Sci 4:95–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Godínez-Álvarez H, Valiente-Banuet A, Rojas-Martínez A (2002) The role of seed dispersers in the population dynamics of the columnar cactus Neobuxbaumia tetetzo. Ecology 83:2617–2629Google Scholar
  29. Gómez JM, Puerta-Piñero C, Schupp EW (2008) Effectiveness of rodents as local seed dispersers of Holm oaks. Oecologia 155:529–537CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Herrera J (1995) Acorn predation and seedling production in a low-density population of cork oak (Quercus suber L.). For Ecol Manage 76:197–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hill MO, Wallace HL (1989) Vegetation and environment in afforested sand dunes at Newborough, Anglesey. Forestry 62:249–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howe HF, Smallwood J (1982) Ecology of seed dispersal. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 13:201–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ida H, Nakagoshi N (1996) Gnawing damage by rodents to the seedlings of Fagus crenata and Quercus mongolica var. grosseserrata in a temperate Sasa grassland-deciduous forest series in southern Japan. Ecol Res 11:97–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Janson CH (1983) Adaptation of fruit morphology to dispersal agents in a neotropical forest. Science 219:187–189CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Jose S, Andrew RG, George SJ, Kumar BM (1996) Vegetation responses along edge-to-interior gradients in a high altitude tropical forest in peninsular India. For Ecol Manage 87:51–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kira T (1991) Forest ecosystems of east and southeast Asia in global perspective. Ecol Res 6:185–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kollmann J, Buschor M (2002) Edges effects on seed predation by rodents in deciduous forests of northern Switzerland. Plant Ecol 164:249–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kuiters AT, Slim PA (2003) Tree colonisation of abandoned arable land after 27 years of horse-grazing: the role of bramble as a facilitator of oak wood regeneration. For Ecol Manage 181:239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Laurance WF (1991) Edge effects in tropical forest fragments: application of a model for the design of nature reserves. Biol Conserv 57:205–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Laurance WF (1997) Hyper-disturbed parks: edge effects and the ecology of isolated rainforest reserves in tropical Australia. In: Laurance WF, Bierregaard RO (eds) Tropical forest remnants: ecology, management and conservation of fragmented communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 71–83Google Scholar
  41. Laurance WF, Ferreira LV, Rankin-de Merona JM, Laurance SG (1998) Rain forest fragmentation and the dynamics of Amazonian tree communities. Ecology 79:2032–2040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Laurance WF, Perez-Salicrup D, Delamonica P, Fearnside PM, D’Angelo S, Jerozolinski A, Pohl L, Lovejoy TE (2001) Rain forest fragmentation and the structure of Amazonian liana communities. Ecology 82:105–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Laurance WF, Nascimento HEM, Laurance SG, Andrade AC, Fearnside PM, Ribeiro JEL, Capretz RL (2006) Rain forest fragmentation and the proliferation of successional trees. Ecology 87:469–482CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Lawson D, Inouye RS, Huntly N, Carlson WP (1999) Patterns of woody plant abundance, recruitment, mortality, and growth in a 65 year chronosequence of old-fields. Plant Ecol 145:267–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lin L, Cao M (2009) Edge effects on soil seed banks and understory vegetation in subtropical and tropical forests in Yunnan, SW China. For Ecol Manage 257:1344–1352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Liu WY, Fox JED, Xu ZF (2002) Litterfall and nutrient dynamics in a montane moist evergreen broad-leaved forest in Ailao Mountains, SW China. Plant Ecol 164:157–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. López-Barrera F (2003) Edge effects in a forest mosaic: implications for oak regeneration in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Ph.D. Thesis. Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UKGoogle Scholar
  48. Machtans CS, Villard MA, Hannon SJ (1996) Use of riparian buffer strips as movement corridors by forest birds. Conserv Biol 10:1366–1379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Manson RH, STILES EW (1998) Links between microhabitat preferences and seed predation by small mammals in old fields. Oikos 82:37–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McCune B, Mefford MJ (1999) PC-ORD: multivariate analysis of ecological data, Version 4. MjM Software Design, Gleneden BeachGoogle Scholar
  51. Milewski AV, Young TP, Madden D (1991) Thorns as induced defenses: experimental. Oecologia 86:70–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Miyaki M, Kikuzawa K (1988) Dispersal of Quercus mongolica acorns in a broadleaved deciduous forest. 2. Scatterhoarding by mice. For Ecol Manage 25:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Moles AT, Drake DR (1999) Potential contributions of the seed rain and seed bank to regeneration of native forest under plantation pine in New Zealand. New Zeal J Bot 37:83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mwima PM, McNeilage A (2003) Natural regeneration and ecological recovery in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Afr J Ecol 41:93–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Myster RW, Pickett STA (1992) Effects of palatability and dispersal mode on spatial patterns of trees in old-fields. Bull Torrey Bot Club 119:145–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nalepa CA, Piper WH (1994) Bird dispersal of the larval stage of a seed predator. Oecologia 100:200–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nepstad D, Uhl C, da Silva JMC (1996) A comparative study of tree establishment in abandoned pasture and mature forest in eastern Amazonia. Oikos 76:25–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ohsawa M (1984) Differentiation of vegetation zones and species strategies in the subalpine region of Mt. Fuji. Vegetatio 57:15–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Olff H, Vera FWM, Bokdam J, Bakker ES, Gleichman JM, de Maeyer K, Smit R (1999) Shifting mosaics in grazed woodlands driven by the alternation of plant facilitation and competition. Plant Biol 1:27–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Oosterhoorn M, Kappelle M (2000) Vegetation structure and composition along an interior-edge-exterior gradient in a Costa Rican montane cloud forest. For Ecol Manage 126:291–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pandey SK, Shukla RP (2003) Plant diversity in managed sal (Shorea robusta Gaertn.) forests of Gorakhpur, India: species composition, regeneration and conservation. Biodivers Conserv 12:2295–2319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Restrepo C, Gómez N, Heredia S (1999) Anthropogenic edges, treefall gaps, and fruit-frugivore interactions in a neotropical montane forest. Ecology 80:668–685Google Scholar
  63. Sharam GJ, Sinclair ARE, Turkington R, Jacob AL (2009) The savanna tree Acacia polyacantha facilitates the establishment of riparian forests in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. J Trop Ecol 25:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smith CC, Reichman OJ (2002) The evolution of food caching by birds and mammals. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 15:329–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stapanian MA, Smith CC (1986) How fox squirrels influence the invasion of prairies by nut-bearing trees. J Mammal 67:326–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Swaine MD, Whitmore TC (1988) On the definition of ecological species groups in tropical rain forests. Vegetatio 75:81–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tagawa H (1995) Distribution of lucidophyll oak-laurel forest formation in Asia and other areas. Tropics 5:1–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tanouchi H, Yamamoto S (1995) Structure and regeneration of canopy species in an old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest in Aya district, southwestern Japan. Vegetatio 117:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tashi S (2004) Regeneration of Quercus semecarpifolia Sm. in an old growth oak forest under Gidakom FMU- Bhutan. M. Sc. Thesis. Wageningen University and Research Centrum, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  70. Teketay D (2005) Seed and regeneration ecology in dry Afromontane forests of Ethiopia. I. Seed production–population structures. Trop Ecol 46:29–44Google Scholar
  71. Viana VM, Tabanez AAJ, Batista JLF (1997) Dynamics and restoration of forest fragments in the Brazilian Atlantic moist forest. In: Laurance WF, Bierregaard RO Jr (eds) Tropical forest remnants: ecology, management, and conservation of fragmented communities. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 351–365Google Scholar
  72. Vreeland JK, Tietje WD (2004) Vegetative structure of woodland-grassland edges in coastal central California. Southwest Nat 49:305–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wang XH, Kent M, Fang XF (2007) Evergreen broad-leaved forest in Eastern China: its ecology and conservation and the importance of resprouting in forest restoration. For Ecol Manage 245:76–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Williams-Linera G (1990) Vegetation structure and environmental conditions of forest edges in Panama. J Ecol 78:356–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Williams-Linera G, Dominguez-Gastelu V, Garcia-Zurita ME (1998) Microenvironment and floristics of different edges in a fragmented tropical rainforest. Conserv Biol 12:1091–1102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. You CX (1983) Classification of vegetation in Xujiaba region in Ailao Mts. In: Wu ZY (ed) Research of forest ecosystems of Ailao Mountains, Yunnan (in Chinese with English abstract). Yunnan Science and Technology Press, Kunming, pp 74–117Google Scholar
  77. Zhu WZ, Cheng S, Cai XH, He F, Wang JX (2009) Changes in plant species diversity along a chronosequence of vegetation restoration in the humid evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Rainy Zone of West China. Ecol Res 24:315–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zimmerrnan JK, Everham EM III, Waide RB, Lodge DJ, Taylor CM, Brokaw NVL (1994) Responses of tree species to hurricane winds in subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico: implications for tropical life histories. J Ecol 82:91–922Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao-Shuang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wen-Yao Liu
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jun-Wen Chen
    • 4
  • Cindy Q. Tang
    • 5
  • Chun-Ming Yuan
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Environmental BiologyCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Crop Science, College of Agronomy and BiotechnologyYunnan Agricultural UniversityKunmingChina
  5. 5.Institute of Ecology and GeobotanyYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  6. 6.Yunnan Academy of ForestryKunmingChina
  7. 7.Yunnan Laboratory for Conservation of the Rare, Endangered and Endemic Forest Plants, State Forestry Administration, and Yunnan Key Laboratory for Forest Plant Cultivation and UtilizationKunmingChina

Personalised recommendations