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    There is concern that secondary forests dominated by introduced species, known as novel forests, increase taxonomical similarity between localities and lead to biotic homogenization in human dominated landscapes. In Puerto Rico, agricultural abandonment has given way to novel forests dominated by the introduced African tulip tree Spathodea campanulata Beauv. (Bignoniaceae). In this study, I characterized the tree species composition of S. campanulata forests in Puerto Rico as means to evaluate if biotic homogenization is occurring. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling was used to examine what variables were related to the large (C10 cm diameter at breast height [DBH]), small (C2.5 to \10 cm DBH), and juvenile (\2.5 cm DBH) tree species composition of 20 sites. Species composition was strongly related to substrate properties, less related to land use history, and unrelated to spatial attributes. The introduced species component was low (mean = 17%, S.E. = 1.8) and compositional differences were mostly due to native tree species of secondary to old growth forests on equivalent substrates. Animals appear to disperse most species (86%) into these forests yet because of this some introduced species will persist. Although uncommon species were largely absent, recent species establishment is shaped by substrate properties making biotic homogenization in these forests unlikely. The S. campanulata forests of Puerto Rico facilitate native tree species establishment in lands where poor management practices extirpated the original forest. These results highlight the importance of remnant old growth forests or trees that act as seed dispersal sources and facilitate native species recovery in novel forests.

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    Abelleira Martinez, Oscar J. 2010. Invasion by native tree species prevents biotic homogenization in novel forests of Puerto Rico. Plant Ecology. DOI 10.1007/s11258-010-9771-4


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    Spathodea campanulata, Introduced invasive species, Tropical secondary forests, Land cover change, Agricultural landscape

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