Functional divesity changes during tropical forest succession

Functional divesity changes during tropical forest succession


This paper evaluates changes in species richness and functional diversity during tropical secondary forest succession following shifting cultivation in Chiapas, Mexico, particularly examining whether speces richness is a good predictor of functional diversity. Functional diversity was calculated based on a combination of nine functional traits, and two individual traits important for primary production (specific leaf area) and carbon sequestration (wood density).

Conclusions & Takeaways

The authors found that functiona diversity does increase with species diversity, but that the relationship depends on the number and nature of functional traits included. In early secondary forest succession there is limited functional redundancy. Results suggest that ecological functions are not necessarily safeguarded against species loss through functional redundancy and that species diversity is a better proxy for functional diversity than species richeness in early successoinal sites. Authors recommend further studies across ecosystem types to understand if this is a broad pattern found throughout ecosystems in the tropics.


Lohbeck M, Poorter L, Paz H, et al. Functional diversity changes during tropical forest succession. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 2012;14:89–96. doi:10.1016/j.ppees.2011.10.002.


  • Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morela
  • Department of Agricultural Technology, Universidad Francisco de Miranda, Venezuela
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute- CTFS Unit