Evidence for contrasting functional groups of lianas in restored and reference tropical forests.

Vera Engel

Publication Date:

Functional traits are important predictors of species distributions and abundance, and their response to the environment. During community assembly, species that colonize the newly established habitat must be able to adapt to contrasting environmental conditions, in comparison to the undisturbed forest, and thus belong to contrasting functional groups. Although functional groups are well described for trees, this is not always true for other life forms of the tropical forest. For climbers, compositional differences between restored and reference forests have been observed, although this pattern is yet not completely understood.  We assessed some functional traits (specific leaf area [SLA], stem density [SD], seed dispersal syndromes, climbing mechanisms) of the 10 most abundant liana species of 20-yr-old restored forests, versus a well conserved, neighboring forest fragment. We found higher SLA and lower SD for the restored forest species in comparison to the reference forest. While anemochory and leaf tendrils were predominant in both habitats, the proportion of zoochory and autochory were higher in the forest fragment, as well as the proportion of scandic bushes. Within the reference forest, liana abundance was strongly associated with the proportion of canopy deciduous trees and tree density, while in the restored plots the main factor was the level of canopy openness. Differences in predominant functional traits and habitat preferences support the evidence for contrasting functional groups of lianas able to quickly colonize restored forests, in relation to groups adapted to well conserved forests. For colonizing lianas, light availability seems to be the main ecological filter.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration