Response of tree diversity and community composition to forest use intensity along a tropical elevational gradient

Leticia Monge-Gonzalez, Maria; Craven, Dylan; Kromer, Thorsten; Castillo-Campos, Gonzalo; Hernandez-Sanchez, Alejandro; Guzman-Jacob, Valeria; Guerrero-Ramirez, Nathaly; Kreft, Holger


Question Land-use change and intensification are currently the most pervasive threats to tropical biodiversity. Yet, their effects on biodiversity change with elevation are unknown. Here, we examine how tree diversity and community composition vary with elevation and how the effects of forest use intensity on tree diversity and community composition change within elevations. Location Eastern slopes of the Cofre de Perote mountain, state of Veracruz, Mexico. Methods We assessed tree diversity and composition using a sampling design in which elevation was crossed with three levels of forest use intensity: old-growth, degraded, and secondary forests. We established 120 20 m x 20 m forest plots, located at eight sites between 0 m and 3,545 m. At each site, five replicate plots were inventoried for each level of forest use intensity. Results Our analyses revealed an interactive effect between elevation and forest use intensity affecting tree diversity and community composition along the elevational gradient. Contrasting effects of forest use intensity within elevation resulted in tree diversity following a low-plateau pattern for old-growth and a bimodal pattern for degraded and secondary forests. Along the entire elevational gradient, there were 217 tree species distributed within 154 genera and 80 families. Species accumulation curves revealed that forests at 0 m and 1,500 m elevation showed differences in species richness among forest use intensities. In contrast, species richness did not differ between old-growth forest and the other forest use intensities in five of the eight studied elevations. In terms of community composition, secondary forests differed from old-growth and degraded forests. Conclusion Our results suggest that the interactive effects of elevation and forest use intensity change tree diversity patterns and community composition along a tropical elevational gradient. Degraded forests were similar to old-growth forests in terms of species diversity and composition, suggesting that they may act as a safeguard of tree diversity in human-dominated tropical landscapes.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:000501507600001 Not found in local WOS DB
Volumen: 23
Número: 1
Editorial: Wiley
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Página de inicio: 69
Página final: 79


Notas: ISI