Liana abundance in a Puerto Rican forest

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Forest Ecology and Management


Liana (woody vine) abundance varies among tropical forests and is often high in disturbed forests. In two areas of subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico, El Verde and Bisley, we recorded the density of liana stems >=1 cm dbh, and the percent of tree crowns (trees >=10 cm dbh) that lianas infested. Both study areas have been disturbed by hurricanes several times in the past century; however, sample plots in each area were divided between plots that were less disturbed and those that were more disturbed, by both hurricanes and humans. The mean density and basal area of liana stems at El Verde were significantly higher in the less disturbed plots than in the more disturbed plots. The percent tree crown infested by lianas was higher on certain tree species and on larger trees, both of which characterized the less disturbed forest. Results at Bisley were similar to those at El Verde. Liana density and tree crown infestation in these Puerto Rican forests were low compared with most other tropical forests, contrasting especially with high values in other disturbed forests. Liana abundance varies among forests for complex reasons, including differences in disturbance, biogeography, seasonality, and tree host features.