Plant Ecology

, Volume 218, Issue 8, pp 1021–1033 | Cite as

Are changes in remotely sensed canopy cover associated to changes in vegetation structure, diversity, and composition in recovered tropical shrublands?

  • Alma Juliana Lomelí Jiménez
  • Diego Rafael Pérez-Salicrup
  • Blanca Lorena Figueroa Rangel
  • Manuel E. Mendoza-Cantú
  • Ramón Cuevas Guzmán
  • Ellen Andresen
  • Jorge Eduardo Morfín Ríos


The recovery of vegetation cover is a process that has important implications for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Generally, the recovery of vegetation cover is documented over large areas using remote sensing, and it is often assumed that ecosystem properties and processes recover along with remotely sensed canopy cover. Here we analyze and compare the structure, composition, and diversity of trees and shrubs among plots established in a stratified random sampling design over four remotely sensed canopy cover change (CCC) categories defined according to a gradient in the percent of canopy cover. Plots were located in the Lake Cuitzeo basin (Mexico), where canopy recovery associated with agricultural abandonment has occurred in recent decades (1975–2000). We found that diversity measures, basal area, tree and shrub density, ground-truthed canopy cover, and mean plant height increased with increasing CCC category. However, Shannon index (H′) was lower in the CCC category with the most closed canopy cover category than in plots apparently not affected by agriculture. Furthermore, ordination analyses showed that composition of dominant species were not associated with CCC categories. Our results suggest that canopy closure in our study area is not associated with the recovery of species diversity, and does not result in similar species dominance as in sites not affected by agriculture.


Michoacán Secondary vegetation Shrubland Tropical dry forests 



We thank the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) for the graduate fellowship awarded to Alma J. Lomelí for studies within the Programa de Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad (PNPC). Fieldwork was funded through the project PAPITT of UNAM (No. IN304408). We thank the people who helped with fieldwork: Hugo Arévalo, José María Michel, Eloy Padilla, Pavka Patiño, Mariana Cantú, Mariano Torres, Alberto Ortiz, Rafael Aguilar, Carmen Godínez, Leonardo Martínez, Franco Ambas, and Víctor Aguilar. We thank the staff of the ZEA herbarium and Laboratorio de Manejo Forestal del Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales de la Universidad de Guadalajara, for logistical support. We want to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments to a previous version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alma Juliana Lomelí Jiménez
    • 1
  • Diego Rafael Pérez-Salicrup
    • 2
  • Blanca Lorena Figueroa Rangel
    • 1
  • Manuel E. Mendoza-Cantú
    • 3
  • Ramón Cuevas Guzmán
    • 1
  • Ellen Andresen
    • 2
  • Jorge Eduardo Morfín Ríos
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales-IMECBIO, Centro Universitario de la Costa SurUniversidad de GuadalajaraAutlán de NavarroMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y SustentabilidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  3. 3.Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía AmbientalUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico

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