Long-term erosion of tree reproductive trait diversity in edge-dominated Atlantic forest fragments

Lopes, Ariadna Valentina, Girão, Luciana Coe, Santos, Bráulio Almeida, Peres, Carlos A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1588-8765 and Tabarelli, Marcelo (2009) Long-term erosion of tree reproductive trait diversity in edge-dominated Atlantic forest fragments. Biological Conservation, 142 (6). pp. 1154-1165.

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Habitat loss and fragmentation promote relatively predicable shifts in the functional signature of tropical forest tree assemblages, but the full extent of cascading effects to biodiversity persistence remains poorly understood. Here we test the hypotheses that habitat fragmentation (a) alters the relative contribution of tree species exhibiting different reproductive traits; (b) reduces the diversity of pollination systems; and (c) facilitates the functional convergence of reproductive traits between edge-affected and early-secondary forest habitats (5-32 years old). This study was carried out in a severely fragmented 670-km2 forest landscape of the Atlantic forest of northeastern Brazil. We assigned 35 categories of reproductive traits to 3552 trees (DBH = 10 cm) belonging to 179 species, which described their pollination system, floral biology, and sexual system. Trait abundance was calculated for 55 plots of 0.1 ha across four habitats: forest edges, small forest fragments (3.4-83.6 ha), second-growth patches, and core tracts of forest interior within the largest available primary forest fragment (3500 ha) in the region. Edge-affected and secondary habitats showed a species-poor assemblage of trees exhibiting particular pollination systems, a reduced diversity of pollination systems, a higher abundance of reproductive traits associated with pollination by generalist diurnal vectors, and an elevated abundance of hermaphroditic trees. As expected, the reproductive signature of tree assemblages in forest edges and small fragments (edge-affected habitats), which was very similar to that of early second-growth patches, was greatly affected by both habitat type and plot distance to the nearest forest edge. In hyper-fragmented Atlantic forest landscapes, we predict that narrow forest corridors and small fragments will become increasingly dominated by edge-affected habitats that can no longer retain the full complement of tree life-history diversity and its attendant mutualists.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Environmental Biology
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Resources, Sustainability and Governance (former - to 2018)
Depositing User: Rosie Cullington
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2011 10:30
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 14:33
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/24410
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.01.007

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