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Seasonal and successional dynamics of size-dependent plant demographic rates in a tropical dry forest

Irving Saenz Pedroza Richard Feldman Casandra Reyes García Jorge Arturo Meave del Castillo Luz María del Carmen Calvo Irabien FILOGONIO MAY PAT JUAN MANUEL DUPUY RADA (2020)

Tropical forests are globally important for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation but are being converted to other land uses. Conversion of seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTF) is particularly high while their protection is low. Secondary succession allows forests to recover their structure, diversity and composition after conversion and subsequent abandonment and is influenced by demographic rates of the constituent species. However, how these rates vary between seasons for different plant sizes at different successional stages in SDTF is not known. The effect of seasonal drought may be more severe early in succession, when temperature and radiation are high, while competition and density-dependent processes may be more important at later stages, when vegetation is tall and dense. Besides, the effects of seasonality and successional stage may vary with plant size. Large plants can better compete with small plants for limiting resources and may also have a greater capacity to withstand stress. Weasked how size-dependent density, species density, recruitment andmortality varied between seasons and successional stages in a SDTF. We monitored a chronosequence in Yucatan, Mexico, over six years in three 0.1 ha plots in each of three successional stages: early (3 5 years-old), intermediate (18 20 years-old) and advanced (>50 years-old). Recruitment, mortality and species gain and loss rates were calculated from wet and dry season censuses separately for large (diameter > 5 cm) and small (1 5 cm in diameter) plants. We used linear mixed-effects models to assess the effects of successional stage, seasonality and their changes through time on demographic rates and on plant and species density. Seasonality affected demographic rates and density of large plants, which exhibited high wet-season recruitment and species gain rates at the early stage and high wet-season mortality at the intermediate stage, resulting in an increase in plant and species density early in succession followed by a subsequent stabilization. Small plant density decreased steadily after only 5 years of land abandonment, whereas species density increased with successional stage. A decline in species dominance may be responsible for these contrasting patterns. Seasonality, successional stage and their changes through time had a stronger influence on large plants, likely because of large among-plot variation of small plants. Notwithstanding the short duration of our study.

Article

CHRONOSEQUENCE RESAMPLING PLANT AND SPECIES DENSITY RECRUITMENT MORTALITY DRY SEASON RAINY SEASON SECONDARY FOREST SUCCESSION COMPETITION ENVIRONMENTAL FILTERING BIOLOGÍA Y QUÍMICA CIENCIAS DE LA VIDA BIOLOGÍA VEGETAL (BOTÁNICA) DESARROLLO VEGETAL DESARROLLO VEGETAL