Influence of landscape structure and stand age on species density and biomass of a tropical dry forest across spatial scales
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- Hernández-Stefanoni, J.L., Dupuy, J.M., Tun-Dzul, F. et al. Landscape Ecol (2011) 26: 355. doi:10.1007/s10980-010-9561-3
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Three central related issues in ecology are to identify spatial variation of ecological processes, to understand the relative influence of environmental and spatial variables, and to investigate the response of environmental variables at different spatial scales. These issues are particularly important for tropical dry forests, which have been comparatively less studied and are more threatened than other terrestrial ecosystems. This study aims to characterize relationships between community structure and landscape configuration and habitat type (stand age) considering different spatial scales for a tropical dry forest in Yucatan. Species density and above ground biomass were calculated from 276 sampling sites, while land cover classes were obtained from multi-spectral classification of a Spot 5 satellite imagery. Species density and biomass were related to stand age, landscape metrics of patch types (area, edge, shape, similarity and contrast) and principal coordinate of neighbor matrices (PCNM) variables using regression analysis. PCNM analysis was performed to interpret results in terms of spatial scales as well as to decompose variation into spatial, stand age and landscape structure components. Stand age was the most important variable for biomass, whereas landscape structure and spatial dependence had a comparable or even stronger influence on species density than stand age. At the very broad scale (8,000–10,500 m), stand age contributed most to biomass and landscape structure to species density. At the broad scale (2,000–8,000 m), stand age was the most important variable predicting both species density and biomass. Our results shed light on which landscape configurations could enhance plant diversity and above ground biomass.