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    Author(s): E. Mar¡n-Spiotta; R. Ostertag; Silver W. L.
    Date: 2007
    Source: Ecological Applications. ; 17(3):828-839.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: View PDF  (265 B)

    Description

    Primary tropical forests are renowned for their high biodiversity and carbon storage, and considerable research has documented both species and carbon losses with deforestation and agricultural land uses. Economic drivers are now leading to the abandonment of agricultural lands, and the area in secondary forests is increasing. We know little about how long it takes for these ecosystems to achieve the structural and compositional characteristics of primary forests. In this study, we examine changes in plant species composition and aboveground biomass during eight decades of tropical secondary succession in Puerto Rico, and compare these patterns with primary forests. Using a well-replicated chronosequence approach, we sampled primary forests and secondary forests established 10, 20, 30, 60, and 80 years ago on abandoned pastures. Tree species composition in all secondary forests was different from that of primary forests and could be divided into early (10-, 20-, and 30-year) vs. late (60- and 80-year) successional phases. The highest rates of aboveground biomass accumulation occurred in the first 20 years, with rates of C sequestration peaking at 6.7 6 0.5 Mg Cha1yr1. Reforestation of pastures resulted in an accumulation of 125 Mg C/ha in aboveground standing live biomass over 80 years. The 80 year-old secondary forests had greater biomass than the primary forests, due to the replacement of woody species by palms in the primary forests. Our results show that these new ecosystems have different species composition, but similar species richness, and significant potential for carbon sequestration, compared to remnant primary forests.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Marín-Spiotta, E. and Ostertag, R. Silver W. L. 2007. Long-term patterns in tropical reforestation: plant community composition and aboveground biomass accumulation. Ecological Applications. ; 17(3):828-839.

    Keywords

    abandoned pastures, biomass, carbon, Prestoea acuminata var. montana, Puerto Rico, reforestation, secondary forests, secondary succession, Syzygium jambos, Tabebuia heterophylla, tropical forests q

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