Secondary forests cover large areas of the tropics and play an important role in the global carbon cycle. During secondary forest succession, simultaneous changes occur among stand structural attributes, soil properties, and species composition. Most studies classify tree species into categories based on their regeneration requirements. We use a high-resolution secondary forest chronosequence to assign trees to a continuous gradient in species successional status assigned according to their distribution across the chronosequence. Species successional status, not stand age or differences in stand structure or soil properties, was found to be the best predictor of leaf trait variation. Foliar ?(13)C had a significant positive relationship with species successional status, indicating changes in foliar physiology related to growth and competitive strategy, but was not correlated with stand age, whereas soil ?(13)C dynamics were largely constrained by plant species composition. Foliar ?(15)N had a significant negative correlation with both stand age and species successional status, - most likely resulting from a large initial biomass-burning enrichment in soil (15)N and (13)C and not closure of the nitrogen cycle. Foliar %C was neither correlated with stand age nor species successional status but was found to display significant phylogenetic signal. Results from this study are relevant to understanding the dynamics of tree species growth and competition during forest succession and highlight possibilities of, and potentially confounding signals affecting, the utility of leaf traits to understand community and species dynamics during secondary forest succession.
The crucial role of biodiversity in the links between ecosystems and societies has been repeatedly highlighted both as source of wellbeing and as a target of human actions, but not all aspects of biodiversity are equally important to different ecosystem services. Similarly, different social actors have different perceptions of and access to ecosystem services, and therefore, they have different wants and capacities to select directly or indirectly for particular biodiversity and ecosystem characteristics. Their choices feed back onto the ecosystem services provided to all parties involved and in turn, affect future decisions. Despite this recognition, the research communities addressing biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human outcomes have yet to develop frameworks that adequately treat the multiple dimensions and interactions in the relationship. Here, we present an interdisciplinary framework for the analysis of relationships between functional diversity, ecosystem services, and human actions that is applicable to specific social environmental systems at local scales. We connect the mechanistic understanding of the ecological role of diversity with its social relevance: ecosystem services. The framework permits connections between functional diversity components and priorities of social actors using land use decisions and ecosystem services as the main links between these ecological and social components. We propose a matrix-based method that provides a transparent and flexible platform for quantifying and integrating social and ecological information and negotiating potentially conflicting land uses among multiple social actors. We illustrate the applicability of our framework by way of land use examples from temperate to subtropical South America, an area of rapid social and ecological change.
*In a comparative study of 42 rainforest tree species we examined relationships amongst wood traits, diameter growth and survival of large trees in the field, and shade tolerance and adult stature of the species. *The species show two orthogonal axes of trait variation: a primary axis related to the vessel size-number trade-off (reflecting investment in hydraulic conductance vs hydraulic safety) and a secondary axis related to investment in parenchyma vs fibres (storage vs strength). Across species, growth rate was positively related to vessel diameter and potential specific hydraulic conductance (K(p)), and negatively related to wood density. Survival rate was only positively related to wood density. *Light-demanding species were characterized by low wood and vessel density and wide vessels. Tall species were characterized by wide vessels with low density and large K(p). Hydraulic traits were more closely associated with adult stature than with light demand, possibly because tall canopy species experience more drought stress and face a higher cavitation risk. *Vessel traits affect growth and wood density affects growth and survival of large trees in the field. Vessel traits and wood density are therefore important components of the performance and life history strategies of tropical tree species.
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