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ABSTRACT:

Lianas and self-supporting plants during tropical forest succession

Journal Article

Letcher S; Chazdon R

2009

Forest Ecology and Management

257

2150-2156

Lianas (woody vines) are an important component of tropical forests with a strong impact on forest dynamics but their responses during forest succession have received relatively little attention. Here we present an analysis of the changes in stem density biomass and species richness of lianas and self-supporting plants during tropical forest succession. We surveyed lianas ≥0.5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) and self-supporting plants ≥2.5 cm dbh in 0.1 ha inventory plots in a chronosequence of 30 sites in northeastern Costa Rica 23 sites on abandoned pastures 10–44 years of age and seven sites in old-growth forest. Stem density of self-supporting plants showed no predictable chronosequence trend but liana stem density declined significantly with forest age. Aboveground biomass of self-supporting vegetation increased rapidly during succession with forests 31–44 years exhibiting higher levels of biomass than old-growth forests. Liana biomass accumulated more slowly with the highest levels in old-growth sites. Species richness of self-supporting vegetation increased significantly during succession but species richness of lianas showed no change or a slight decline with forest age depending on the method of assessment. The differences between tree and liana responses during succession stem from the unique physiology and life history traits of lianas.

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Support

The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.