Tree regeneration and microclimate in a liana and bamboo-dominated semideciduous Atlantic Forest
Forest Ecology and Management
We assessed the effect of native bamboo and lianas on microclimate, tree regeneration and forest structure in a semi-deciduous Atlantic Forest subjected to selective timber extraction during the last century. We hypothetized that bamboo and liana cutting would increase incoming solar radiation in the understory promoting establishment and survival of pioneer and light-requiring canopy tree species. A manipulative experiment consisting of bamboo and liana cutting was performed in a native forest stand in northeastern Argentina. In three permanent 1-ha plots bamboo and lianas were cut and allowed to decompose in situ, while other three plots were used as a control treatment. We measured solar radiation reaching the understory, soil water availability and air temperature in both bamboo and liana cutting and control plots. Tree sapling abundance and richness, stand basal area, bamboo density, and cover of lianas, herbs, shrubs, fallen trees and branches were also determined. We performed multivariate analyses to relate tree sapling abundance and richness with biotic and abiotic factors. Bamboo and liana cutting increased by 100% the solar radiation reaching the understory. The fraction of solar radiation transmitted at 0.7 m height above ground in control and treated plots was 0.1 and 0.2, respectively. Minimum soil matric potentials after a severe dry spell were less than â€šÃ Ã2 MPa. Soil water availability was higher under closed-canopy in the treated plots because liana transpiration was prevented by cutting. Although bamboo and liana cutting increased incoming solar radiation, tree seedling and sapling abundance of pioneer and light-demanding species was not improved by the treatment. Instead, an increased abundance of herbaceous plants was observed in gaps and open canopy areas (i.e., sites with amounts of herb cover greater than 75% represented the 11 and 2% of the total number of sites in treated and control plots, respectively). Sapling survival and growth rates, on the other hand, appeared to be promoted by bamboo and liana cutting. Bamboo inhibited tree sapling abundance and richness in gaps, whereas tree basal area had a positive effect. In the semideciduous Atlantic Forest, native bamboos modify gap phase regeneration, and may affect canopy cover and forest composition in the long term. Post-logging management techniques are needed for sustainable timber production in these forest stands.