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Gap dynamics of a tropical cloud forest in northeastern mexico



Gap dynamics of a tropical cloud forest in northeastern mexico



Biotropica 20(3): 178-184



Gap dynamics in a tropical cloud forest in Tamaulipas, Mexico were studied by describing the treefall regime and by measuring the temporal and spatial occurrence of gaps (1-yr-old lightgaps produced by treefalls) and patches (older lightgaps). The study plots comprised protected (4 ha) and exposed (2 ha) zones, where the frequency of gap and patch size per unit area was determined. The number of trunks on the forest floor was counted and their length and diameter were recorded. The causes of treefalls were determined. Fallen tree species were identified and a comparison of the specific composition fallen and standing trees was made for the community. The results suggest that gaps play an important role in determining an environmental mosaic within the tropical cloud forest. Species-producing gaps are those dominating the canopy layer in approximately 80 percent of the treefalls. An average of 19 patches ha-1 was registered, comprising 25 percent of the study site. The mean patch size as fitted to a lognormal distribution was estimated as 4.71 .+-. 0.6. Turnover rates were estimated as 158 yr for areas disturbed by natural causes and 90 yr for areas disturbed by joint causes (i.e., natural plus man-induced). The natural and the actual (natural plus man-induced) gap production rates were 0.5 and 0.63 gap ha-1 yr-1. This means that an average of 1.27 percent of the forest area is disturbed every year by natural causes and that 2.22 percent of the area is disturbed by joint causes.

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Accession: 007368761

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DOI: 10.2307/2388232


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