Understanding deforestation in montane and lowland forests of the Colombian Andes

Armenteras D., Rodríguez N., Retana J., Morales M. (2011) Understanding deforestation in montane and lowland forests of the Colombian Andes. Regional Environmental Change. 11: 693-705.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0200-y

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Colombian Andean forests cover nine million ha. These forests provide an informative case study of mountain deforestation in South America. They are surrounded by tropical lowland forests, and they host most of the country's human population. This study evaluates the relative importance of human and natural variables in deforestation of the Colombian Andes between 1985 and 2005 using remote sensing methods, geographic information system (GIS) technology and general linear models (GLM). The following factors affected the annual deforestation in the region positively: forced population migration, unsatisfied basic needs, economic activity, crops, pastures, illicit crops, protected areas and slope. Factors having a negative effect were tenure of small land parcels, road density, water scarcity and mean temperature. The results of this study also provide insight into the differences between the dynamics of lowland forests and those of montane forests. Montane forests had a lower annual rate of deforestation than did forests in the lowlands. Socio-economic, demographic and biophysical factors explain overall deforestation rates for the region. However, when altitude variation is taken into account, intraregional differences in the Andes become evident. Deforestation processes differ between those areas adjacent to the high Andean valleys where most of the country's population concentrates and those areas in the tropical lowlands north, west and east of the Andean chain. Differences between lowland and montane forest dynamics are due partly to the accessibility of forests and differences in wealth and economic activities. In montane forests, deforestation is positively influenced by economic activity, the presence of protected areas and higher slopes. Deforestation in montane forests is negatively affected by tenure of small land parcels, road density, water scarcity and mean temperature. Lowland deforestation rates are more closely related to rural population, pasture percentage, crops, protected areas and temperature. Our results suggest that montane forests appear to be in a more advanced stage of colonisation and economic development, whereas lowland forests are closer to the colonisation frontier and to rapidly growing colonist populations. This study reinforces the idea that although the most common tropical drivers of deforestation are found in the Andes, these drivers operate differently when intraregional differences are considered. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Llegeix més

Characterising fire spatial pattern interactions with climate and vegetation in Colombia

Armenteras-Pascual D., Retana-Alumbreros J., Molowny-Horas R., Roman-Cuesta R.M., Gonzalez-Alonso F., Morales-Rivas M. (2011) Characterising fire spatial pattern interactions with climate and vegetation in Colombia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 151: 279-289.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2010.11.002

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Vegetation burning in tropical countries is a threat to the environment, causing not only local ecological, economic and social impacts, but also large-scale implications for global change. The burning is usually a result of interacting factors, such as climate, land-use and vegetation type. Satellite-derived monthly time series datasets of rainfall, burned area and active fire detections between December 2000 and 2009 were used in this study. A map of vegetation types was also used to determine these factors' spatial and temporal variability and interactions with the total amount of burned area and active fires detected in Colombia. Grasslands represented the vegetation most affected by fires every year in terms of burned area (standardised by their total area), followed by secondary vegetation, pasture and forests. Grasslands were also most affected by active fires, but followed closely by pasture, agricultural areas, secondary vegetation and forests. The results indicated strong climate and fire seasonality and marked regional difference, partly explained by climatic differences amongst regions and vegetation types, especially in the Orinoco and Caribbean regions. The incidence of fire in the Amazon and Andes was less influenced by climate in terms of burned area impacted, but the strength of the ENSO phenomenon affected the Orinoco and the Andes more in terms of burned area. Many of the active fires detected occurred in areas of transition between the submontane and lowland Andes and the Amazon, where extensive conversion to pasture is occurring. The possible high impact of small fires on the tropical rainforest present in this transition area and the Amazonian rainforest deserves more attention in Colombia due to its previous lack of attention to its contribution to global change. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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Habitat determinants of abundance, structure and composition of flying Hymenoptera communities in mountain old-growth forests

Arnan X., Bosch J., Comas L., Gracia M., Retana J. (2011) Habitat determinants of abundance, structure and composition of flying Hymenoptera communities in mountain old-growth forests. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 4: 200-211.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2010.00123.x

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1.Old-growth forests have features that endow them with an extraordinary ecological value. These forests are sources of habitat diversity and, consequently, biodiversity, which makes them a basic objective of conservation programs. Insects have been traditionally used as indicators of forest condition. 2.The aim of this study is to uncover patterns of Hymenoptera abundance and diversity, and their relationship with structural features in old-growth forests. We use pan traps to sample the community of flying Hymenoptera in two old-growth forest types (silver fir and mountain pine) with important structural differences. 3.Compared to other surveys of local Hymenoptera communities, our sampling yielded an extremely high number of species (630). 4.At the plot level, the two forest types showed important differences in family richness and diversity, but not in abundance or in species richness and diversity. However, variability in species richness was higher among pine than silver fir plots, leading to overall higher species richness in the former. 5.Species composition also differed between pine than silver fir forests, and these differences were related to important structural differences between the two forest types. 6.Canonical correspondence and multiple regression analysis yielded contrasting habitat requirements among Hymenoptera families and functional groups (bees, sawflies, parasitic wasps and predatory wasps). 7.We conclude that flying Hymenoptera communities can be used as good indicators of forest structure, habitat complexity and conservation status. © 2010 The Authors. Insect Conservation and Diversity © 2010 The Royal Entomological Society.

Llegeix més

What are the consequences of ant-seed interactions on the abundance of two dry-fruited shrubs in a Mediterranean scrub?

Arnan X., Rodrigo A., Retana J. (2011) What are the consequences of ant-seed interactions on the abundance of two dry-fruited shrubs in a Mediterranean scrub?. Oecologia. 167: 1027-1039.
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Doi: 10.1007/s00442-011-2034-9

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Strong interactions between dry-fruited shrubs and seed-harvesting ants are expected in early successional scrubs, where both groups have a major presence. We have analysed the implications of the seed characteristics of two dry-fruited shrub species (Coronilla minima and Dorycnium pentaphyllum) on seed predation and dispersal mediated by harvester ants and the consequences of these processes on spatio-temporal patterns of plant abundance in a heterogeneous environment. We found that large C. minima seeds were collected much more (39%) than small D. pentaphyllum seeds (2%). However, not all of the removed seeds of these plant species were consumed, and 12.8% of the seeds were lost along the trails, which increased dispersal distances compared with abiotic dispersal alone. Seed dropping occurred among all microhabitats of the two plant species, but especially in open microhabitats, which are the most suitable ones for plant establishment. The two plant species increased their presence in the study area during the study period: C. minima in open microhabitats and D. pentaphyllum in high vegetation. The large size of C. minima seeds probably limited the primary seed dispersal of this species, but may have allowed strong interaction with ants. Thus, seed dispersal by ants resulted in C. minima seeds reaching more suitable microhabitats by means of increasing dispersal distance and redistribution among microhabitats. In contrast, the smaller size of D. pentaphyllum seeds arguably allows abiotic seed dispersal over longer distances and colonization of all types of microhabitats, although it probably also limits their interaction with ants and, consequently, their redistribution in suitable microhabitats. We suggest that dyszoochory could contribute to the success of plant species with different seed characteristics in scrub habitats where seeds are abundantly collected by seed-harvesting ants. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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Land-cover changes in and around a National Park in a mountain landscape in the Pyrenees

Gracia M., Meghelli N., Comas L., Retana J. (2011) Land-cover changes in and around a National Park in a mountain landscape in the Pyrenees. Regional Environmental Change. 11: 349-358.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0138-0

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The current state of Mediterranean mountain areas has been driven by two main factors: intense traditional human activity and the dynamics of the ecosystem itself. In this study, we examine land-cover changes in a National Park in the Pyrenees mountains (NE Iberian Peninsula), which was designated a protected area 55 years ago. First, we have analyzed spatio-temporal changes in land-cover pattern and forest dynamics from 1957 to 2005. During this period, land-cover dynamics consisted of two main processes: (i) expansion of the forest area and (ii) increasing cover of forests already present in 1957. To analyze the role of the conservation level of the park, we have also compared the results obtained within the park with those of unprotected, peripheral areas. In the two areas with different protection level, dense forests increased throughout the period because of the reduction in forestry activities. The peripheral area showed a higher rate of forest-cover change from 1957 to 2005 compared to the National Park. This higher increase in forest cover in the peripheral area could be related to a higher proportion in the National Park of screes and rocky areas and to the decline and transformation of forest activities in these peripheral, lower elevation areas. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Llegeix més

Patterns and trends of forest loss in the Colombian Guyana.

Rodríguez N, Armenteras D, Molowny-Horas R, Retana J (2011) Patterns and trends of forest loss in the Colombian Guyana. Biotropica doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2011.00770.x.

Post-fire Management of non-serotinous pine forests. In: Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests (Moreira F, Arianoutsou M, Corona P & De las Heras J eds).

Retana J, Arnan X, Arianoutsou M, Barbati A, Kazanis D, Rodrigo A (2011) Post-fire Management of non-serotinous pine forests. In: Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests (Moreira F, Arianoutsou M, Corona P & De las Heras J eds). Managing Forest Ecosystems Series, Vol. 24. Springer, pp. 329. ISBN 978-94-007-2207-1.

Forest structure and management interact with recent changes in climate to determine the current forest carbon stock in Peninsular Spain.

Vayreda J, Martínez-Vilalta J, Gracia M, Retana J (2011) Forest structure and management interact with recent changes in climate to determine the current forest carbon stock in Peninsular Spain. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02606.x.

Structural and climatic determinants of demographic rates of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula

Vila-Cabrera A., Martinez-Vilalta J., Vayreda J., Retana J. (2011) Structural and climatic determinants of demographic rates of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula. Ecological Applications. 21: 1162-1172.
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Doi: 10.1890/10-0647.1

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The demographic rates of tree species typically show large spatial variation across their range. Understanding the environmental factors underlying this variation is a key topic in forest ecology, with far-reaching management implications. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) covers large areas of the Northern Hemisphere, the Iberian Peninsula being its southwestern distribution limit. In recent decades, an increase in severe droughts and a densification of forests as a result of changes in forest uses have occurred in this region. Our aim was to use climate and stand structure data to explain mortality and growth patterns of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula. We used data from 2392 plots dominated by Scots pine, sampled for the National Forest Inventory of Spain. Plots were sampled from 1986 to 1996 (IFN2) and were resampled from 1997 to 2007 (IFN3), allowing for the calculation of growth and mortality rates. We fitted linear models to assess the response of growth and mortality rates to the spatial variability of climate, climatic anomalies, and forest structure. Over the period of;10 years between the IFN2 and IFN3, the amount of standing dead trees increased 11-fold. Higher mortality rates were related to dryness, and growth was reduced with increasing dryness and temperature, but results also suggested that effects of climatic stressors were not restricted to dry sites only. Forest structure was strongly related to demographic rates, suggesting that stand development and competition are the main factors associated with demography. In the case of mortality, forest structure interacted with climate, suggesting that competition for water resources induces tree mortality in dry sites. A slight negative relationship was found between mortality and growth, indicating that both rates are likely to be affected by the same stress factors. Additionally, regeneration tended to be lower in plots with higher mortality. Taken together, our results suggest a large-scale self-thinning related to the recent densification of Scots pine forests. This process appears to be enhanced by dry conditions and may lead to a mismatch in forest turnover. Forest management may be an essential adaptive tool under the drier conditions predicted by most climate models. © 2011 by the Ecological Society of America.

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Interspecific differences in sapling performance with respect to light and aridity gradients in mediterranean pine-oak forests: Implications for species coexistence

Zavala M.A., Espelta J.M., Caspersen J., Retana J. (2011) Interspecific differences in sapling performance with respect to light and aridity gradients in mediterranean pine-oak forests: Implications for species coexistence. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 41: 1432-1444.
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Doi: 10.1139/x11-050

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The relative abundance of two codominant Mediterranean tree species, shade-tolerant Quercus ilex L. and shade-intolerant Pinus halepensis Mill., is inversely correlated along aridity gradients, but this pattern is not explained by seedling responses to water or light availability, suggesting that subsequent life history stages may explain forest composition. To test this hypothesis, we calibrated statistical models of sapling growth and height-diameter allometry as functions of light availability and climatic variation as well as models of sapling mortality as a function of growth history. Contrary to the expectation of a sun-shade growth trade-off, P. halepensis grew faster than Q. ilex saplings at both low and high light levels. Low precipitation and aridity suppressed sapling growth rates, but no evidence of a shade-drought growth trade-off was found either. Pinus halepensis sapling mortality was strongly growth dependent, exhibiting high mortality rates at low growth, but the mortality of Q. ilex saplings was not. Height-diameter allometric variation was higher in low-than in high-light environments and was more pronounced with respect to changes in light than climatic water. Our results suggest that interspecific differences in sapling mortality and plasticity, rather than growth, may control species distributions at the mesic end of the aridity gradient. © NRC Research Press 2011.

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