Successional Change and Resilience of a Very Dry Tropical Deciduous Forest Following Shifting Agriculture
Given substaintial conversion of very dry tropical deciduous forests in Mexico to agricultural and other land uses, this study examines forest succession over time in such ecosystems. The study was conducted near Nizanda, Oaxaca, Mexico with 26°C average temperatures and 900 mm average rainfall.
Research Goals & Methods
The authors used forest plots that had been abandoned for different lengths of time. These were located on hills that had been abandonded by farmers. The authors compared successional patterns to secondary succession patterns from other tropical forests.
Conclusions & Takeaways
A shrub phase (years 0-3) led to a phase dominated by one species of tree (Mimosa acantholoba). Seeds and saplings grew under this new canopy. In under 15 years, canopy height, plant density, and crown cover stabilized, but basal area, species richness, and diversity were still increasing. Unlike humid tropical forests, no long pioneer species phase occured, though the pioneer species have very low diversity. Resilience was no higher than humid forests, despite contrary predictions.
Successional Change and Resilience of a Very Dry Tropical Deciduous Forest Following Shifting Agriculture. Biotropica. 2008;40:422–431. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2008.00398.x..
- Wageningen University, Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands
- Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, México DF, México