Consistent, small effects of treefall disturbances on the composition and diversity of four Amazonian forests

Baker, Timothy R., Díaz, Dilys M. Vela, Moscoso, Victor Chama, Navarro, Gilberto, Monteagudo, Abel, Pinto, Ruy, Cangani, Katia, Fyllas, Nikolaos M., Lopez Gonzalez, Gabriela, Laurance, William F., Lewis, Simon L., Lloyd, Jonathan, ter Steege, Hans, Terborgh, John W., and Phillips, Oliver L. (2016) Consistent, small effects of treefall disturbances on the composition and diversity of four Amazonian forests. Journal of Ecology, 104 (2). pp. 497-506.

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Understanding the resilience of moist tropical forests to treefall disturbance events is important for understanding the mechanisms that underlie species coexistence and for predicting the future composition of these ecosystems. Here, we test whether variation in the functional composition of Amazonian forests determines their resilience to disturbance.

We studied the legacy of natural treefall disturbance events in four forests across Amazonia that differ substantially in functional composition. We compared the composition and diversity of all free-standing woody stems 2–10 cm diameter in previously disturbed and undisturbed 20 × 20 m subplots within 55, one-hectare, long-term forest inventory plots.

Overall, stem number increased following disturbance, and species and functional composition shifted to favour light-wooded, small-seeded taxa. Alpha-diversity increased, but beta-diversity was unaffected by disturbance, in all four forests.

Changes in response to disturbance in both functional composition and alpha-diversity were, however, small (2 – 4% depending on the parameter) and similar among forests.

Synthesis. This study demonstrates that variation in the functional composition of Amazonian forests does not lead to large differences in the response of these forests to treefall disturbances, and overall, these events have a minor role in maintaining the diversity of these ecosystems.

Item ID: 44000
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2745
Keywords: alpha-diversity, beta-diversity, determinants of plant community diversity and structure, functional composition, maximum height, seed mass, tropical forest, wood density
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© 2015 The Authors. Journal of Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: National Environment Research Council (NERC), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF)
Projects and Grants: NERC NE/C517484/1, CNRS Nouragues Research Grants Program
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 07:43
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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