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Recovery of a Subtropical Dry Forest After Abandonment of Different Land Uses


Sandra Molina Colon



Publication type:

Miscellaneous Publication

Primary Station(s):

International Institute of Tropical Forestry


BIOTROPICA 38(3) :354–364


We studied the ecological characteristics of 45.50-yr-old subtropical dry forest stands in Puerto Rico that were growing on sites that had been deforested and used intensively for up to 128 yr. The study took place in the Guánica Commonwealth Forest. Our objective was to assess the long-term effects of previous land use on this forest.i.e., its species composition, structure, and functioning. Previous land-use types included houses, farmlands, and charcoal pits. Stands with these land uses were compared with a nearby mature forest stand. The speed and path of forest recovery after deforestation and land-use abandonment depended on the conditions of the land. Study areas where land uses had removed the forest canopy and altered soil conditions (houses and farmlands) required a longer time to recover and had a different species composition than study areas where land uses retained a forest canopy (charcoal pits). Different forest attributes recovered at different rates. Crown area index, stem density, and litterfall rate recovered faster than stemwood and root, biomass, tree height, and basal area.Where previous land uses removed the canopy, Leucaena leucocephala, a naturalized alien pioneer species, dominated the regrowth. Native species dominated abandoned charcoal pits and mature forest. The change in species composition, including the invasion of alien species, appears to be the most significant long-term effect of human use and modification of the landscape.


Molina Colon, Sandra; Lugo, Ariel E. 2006. Recovery of a Subtropical Dry Forest After Abandonment of Different Land Uses. BIOTROPICA 38(3) :354–364


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