Flooding regime drives tree community structure in Neotropical dry forests

Araújo, Felipe De Carvalho, Tng, David Yue Phin, Apgaua, Deborah Mattos Guimaraes, Morel, Jean Daniel, Pereira, Diego Gualberto Sales, Santos, Paola Ferreira, and dos Santos, Rubens Manoel (2019) Flooding regime drives tree community structure in Neotropical dry forests. Journal of Vegetation Science, 30 (6). pp. 1195-1205.

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Questions: Riverine and associated vegetation communities are periodically affected by floods. However, there have been few quantitative studies on the structural responses of Neotropical tree communities in semi-arid regions to this perturbance. Here, we ask whether flooding regimes and soil attributes affect tree species diversity, composition, community structure, and soil attributes in Neotropical dry forests.

Locations: Southeast Brazil.

Methods: We sampled 120 forest plots of 400 m² totaling 4.8 ha across four tributaries of the São Francisco River with plots situated in areas representing three flooding regimes: (a) annually flooded; (b) occasionally flooded; and (c) never subjected to flooding. Using linear mixed-effects models, we modelled how flooding regime and soil properties (fertility and texture) affect vegetation diversity (species richness), species composition and structural attributes (abundance of individuals, above-ground biomass [AGB], and a community-weighted trait average of multistemness [CWMms]) of these forest plots.

Results: Species richness in the annually flooded forests was significantly lower than in occasionally flooded or never flooded forests, in agreement with our models, which showed that flooding regime was a significant predictor for this variable. Flooding regime was a significant predictor of CWMms, with plots in annually flooded forest sites having the highest CWMms values. Soil chemical attributes were a significant predictor of AGB across all plots but not between flooding regime categories.

Conclusions: In Neotropical dry forests, environmental filters established by flooding can lead to differences among distinct biomes in vegetation structure, diversity patterns as well as system productivity. Conservation strategies for dry forests should therefore take these factors into consideration. Our study also highlights annually flooded dry forest as a significant component of the regional diversity of dry forests deserving of management attention.

Item ID: 61689
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1654-1103
Keywords: caatinga domain, disturbance gradient, drought stress, environmental filter, soil fertility, soil texture, stress gradient, vegetation structure, waterlogging stress
Copyright Information: © 2019 International Association for Vegetation Science.
Funders: Coordenação de AperfeiçoamentoPessoal de Nível Superior, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Gerais, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico
Date Deposited: 07 May 2020 21:35
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410206 Landscape ecology @ 50%
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