Edge disturbance drives liana abundance increase and alteration of liana–host tree interactions in tropical forest fragments

Campbell, Mason J., Edwards, Will, Magrach, Ainhoa, Alamgir, Mohammed, Porolak, Gabriel, Mohandass, D., and Laurance, William F. (2018) Edge disturbance drives liana abundance increase and alteration of liana–host tree interactions in tropical forest fragments. Ecology and Evolution, 8 (8). pp. 4237-4251.

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Closed-canopy forests are being rapidly fragmented across much of the tropical world. Determining the impacts of fragmentation on ecological processes enables better forest management and improves species-conservation outcomes. Lianas are an integral part of tropical forests but can have detrimental and potentially complex interactions with their host trees. These effects can include reduced tree growth and fecundity, elevated tree mortality, alterations in tree-species composition, degradation of forest succession, and a substantial decline in forest carbon storage. We examined the individual impacts of fragmentation and edge effects (0–100-m transect from edge to forest interior) on the liana community and liana–host tree interactions in rainforests of the Atherton Tableland in north Queensland, Australia. We compared the liana and tree community, the traits of liana-infested trees, and determinantsof the rates of tree infestation within five forest fragments (23–58 ha in area) and five nearby intact-forest sites. Fragmented forests experienced considerable disturbance-induced degradation at their edges, resulting in a significant increase in liana abundance. This effect penetrated to significantly greater depths in forest fragments than in intact forests. The composition of the liana community in terms of climbing guilds was significantly different between fragmented and intact forests, likely because forest edges had more small-sized trees favoring particular liana guilds which preferentially use these for climbing trellises. Sites that had higher liana abundances also exhibited higher infestation rates of trees, as did sites with the largest lianas. However, large lianas were associated with low-disturbance forest sites. Our study shows that edge disturbance of forest fragments significantly altered the abundance and community composition of lianas and their ecological relationships with trees, with liana impacts on trees being elevated in fragments relative to intact forests. Consequently, effective control of lianas in forest fragments requires management practices which directly focus on minimizing forest edge disturbance.

Item ID: 53026
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: climbing guild, competition, disturbance, fragmentation, infestation, management, vine
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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: Cowan Bursary, Basque Government (BG), Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Laureate Fellowship (ALF)
Date Deposited: 01 May 2018 02:29
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410206 Landscape ecology @ 25%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 25%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961306 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas in Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 25%
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