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Nearby mature forest distance and regenerating forest age influence tree species composition in the Atlantic forest of Southern Bahia, Brazil

Abstract

The recovery of tree species composition after disturbance depends on dispersal either from nearby forests or from surviving individuals within the disturbed area. Understanding the influence of proximity to mature forests on species composition of regenerating secondary forests can help in predicting the trajectory of recovery from anthropogenic disturbances. Using forest inventory data from a chronosequence of regenerating secondary forests in the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, whereby transects were arranged from the edge of mature forest 100 m into the regenerating area, we calculated community weighted means (CWMs) for traits and the natural distribution ranges of species. We used Generalized Linear Mixed Models to investigate whether site characteristics such as forest age, distance from mature forest edge, soil chemical and physical properties, and canopy openness influence traits and natural distribution of regenerating secondary forest tree species. Results show that species traits were associated with regenerating forest age while the proportion of endemic and widespread species was associated with distance from mature forest and regenerating forest age. Irrespective of distance from mature forest, regenerating secondary forests recruit species with heavy and recalcitrant seeds, but this increased with regenerating forest age. Our results contribute to understanding the effects of forest fragmentation and in restoring forests after deforestation.

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Acknowledgements

We thank staff of Instituto Floresta Viva, Serra do Conduru State Park and Comissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira. We also thank L. Romero, V. da Silva, and J. G. Jardim for their assistance with the fieldwork and plant identification. Financial support was provided by the Compton Foundation, the Tropical Resources Institute (TRI) at Yale University, the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies ”Center for Field Ecology,” Garden Club of America, the Beneficia Foundation, the National Science Foundation (DEB 0516233 and 0946618), and The Lewis B. Cullman fellowship in tropical environmental biology (The New York Botanical Garden).

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Piotto, D., Magnago, L.F.S., Montagnini, F. et al. Nearby mature forest distance and regenerating forest age influence tree species composition in the Atlantic forest of Southern Bahia, Brazil. Biodivers Conserv 30, 2165–2180 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-021-02192-w

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Keywords

  • Secondary forest
  • Succession
  • Dispersal limitation
  • Species’ traits
  • Endemism
  • Tropical moist forest