Changes in tree and liana communities along successional gradient in a tropical dry forest in south-eastern Brazil

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Plant Ecology


We investigated changes in species composition and structure of tree and liana communities along a successional gradient in a seasonally dry tropical forest. There was a progressive increase in tree richness and all tree structural traits from early to late stages, as well as marked changes in tree species composition and dominance. This pattern is probably related to pasture management practices such as ploughing, which remove tree roots and preclude regeneration by resprouting. On the other hand, liana density decreased from intermediate to late stages, showing a negative correlation with tree density. The higher liana abundance in intermediate stage is probably due to a balanced availability of support and light availability, since these variables may show opposite trends during forest growth. Predicted succession models may represent extremes in a continuum of possible successional pathways strongly influenced by land use history, climate, soil type, and by the outcomes of tree–liana interactions.