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    Description

    The introduced tree species Spathodea campanulata (Bignoniaceae) forms novel forests in Puerto Rico, these having emerged after the abandonment of fields in the mid-20th century and resulting in forests with a new species composition. We assessed bryophyte species richness in these novel forests and sought correlations with geological substrate, past land use, forest edge and patch area, forest structure, elevation, microhabitat diversity, tree species richness, and microclimatic conditions. Transects were established (edge and forest interior) in nine moist forest patches dominated by Spathodea in north-central Puerto Rico. These Spathodea forest patches ranged from 0.6 to 9 ha. ANOVA, Chi-square, correlation, and cluster analyses were used in data analyses. We found 57 bryophyte species. There was a significant difference in bryophyte richness among patches. Those on karst exhibited highest bryophyte richness due to microhabitat diversity, past land use, and shorter hydroperiods. Alluvial sites scored lowest in bryophyte species richness, and forest structure was important for bryophyte communities on these sites. Significant differences in temperature, relative humidity, and light intensity were observed between edge and forest interior. These appeared important for establishing bryophyte species cover but not richness and composition. Microhabitat diversity, patch area, and forest age were more related to bryophyte species richness than elevation, exposed edge, and tree species richness, regardless of geologic substrate. Collectively, Spathodea patches were similar to mature forests on the Island with respect to bryophyte species richness and composition. Novel Spathodea forests have conservation value due to their habitat suitability for bryophyte communities.

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    Citation

    Perez, M. E.; Sastre de Jesús, I.; Lugo, A. E.; Abelleira Martínez, O. J. 2012. Bryophyte species diversity in secondary forests dominated by the introduced species Spathodea campanulata Beauv. in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 44:763-770.

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    Keywords

    bryophyte ecology, bryophyte richness, introduced species, microhabitats, novel forests

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/44801