Forest age and isolation affect the rate of recovery of plant species diversity and community composition in secondary rain forests in tropical Australia

Goosem, Miriam, Paz, Claudia, Fensham, Rod, Preece, Noel, Goosem, Stephen and Laurance, Susan G. W. (2016) Forest age and isolation affect the rate of recovery of plant species diversity and community composition in secondary rain forests in tropical Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science, 27 3: 504-514. doi:10.1111/jvs.12376


Author Goosem, Miriam
Paz, Claudia
Fensham, Rod
Preece, Noel
Goosem, Stephen
Laurance, Susan G. W.
Title Forest age and isolation affect the rate of recovery of plant species diversity and community composition in secondary rain forests in tropical Australia
Journal name Journal of Vegetation Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1654-1103
1100-9233
Publication date 2016-05-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/jvs.12376
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 27
Issue 3
Start page 504
End page 514
Total pages 11
Place of publication Chichester, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Questions
Which factors affect the diversity and species composition of tropical secondary rain forests in a region with little information regarding their contribution to global biodiversity?

Can older secondary forests approach the diversity and composition of mature forests following 100 yr of pasture use?

Location
Tropical secondary rain forest, northeast Australia.

Methods
We identified trees, shrubs and vines ≥2.5 cm DBH in a chronosequence comprising 33 sites, aged 3–60 yr since the formation of closed canopy (9–69 yr since pasture abandonment) and compared them with eight sites in nearby mature forest remnants.

Results
Species richness and community composition were strongly influenced by secondary forest age but did not attain values of mature forest. Sites in close proximity to mature forests had higher plant richness, whereas low soil fertility appeared to depress species recruitment. Thus, multiple factors operated in secondary forest community assembly. Unusual tree community patterns that suggest accelerated or slowed successional trajectories were observed at several sites.

Conclusions
Secondary forests in our study region contained important plant diversity for conservation, particularly in older sites, however, even the oldest secondary forests (60 yr) did not converge with the species composition and diversity of mature forests. The protection of mature forest tracts and remnants must be a priority if we are to maintain high levels of plant diversity in tropical landscapes, conserve rare species and facilitate the recruitment of plant species in recovering forests.
Keyword Forest age
Forest isolation
Forest regeneration
Forest remnants
Pasture
Secondary forest
Species composition
Species richness
Successional trajectories
Tropical rain forest
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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