Shadows of the edge effects for tropical emergent trees: the impact of lianas on the growth of Aspidosperma polyneuron
Forest edge impacts emergent trees growth by reducing the number of growth releases. This reduction seems to be related with lianas infestation found at the forest edge.
Deforestation in tropical regions is raising fragmentation to alarming levels. Not only does it lead to losses of forest area, but also the abiotic and biotic changes on forest edge areas alter the development of the remaining trees. We aimed to assess the impacts of forest fragmentation on the growth of tropical emergent trees. We sampled the endangered species Aspidosperma polyneuron (Apocynaceae) at forest edge and interior in the highly fragmented Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We obtained increment cores of each tree along with data about tree and surrounding canopy heights, plus their current levels of liana infestation. We used tree-ring analyses to estimate age and growth rate of trees. Sampled trees and surrounding canopy were taller at the forest interior than at the edge, even though both sampled populations have similar ages. Overall, trees at forest interior show a lifetime growth pattern common to shade-tolerant species, with a peak of growth rate at 120 years. Indeed, all sampled trees exhibited this pattern before fragmentation. However, trees at forest edge presented constantly slow growth rates for all diameter classes after the fragmentation event. The strong presence of lianas at forest edge prevents trees from experiencing the expected growth releases throughout their lifetime, probably by keeping the leaves of A. polyneuron under shaded conditions. Therefore, the management of lianas at the forest edge is likely the most effective procedure to ensure the growth of emergent trees, guarantying their role on forests structure, carbon storage, and ecosystem functioning.
KeywordsDisturbance Atlantic Forest Fragmentation Growth release Lianas Tree rings
We thank Paula J. Alécio for helping in field sampling and in all wood preparation processes, tool maintenance, and field work organization. We also thank Luciano Fiorotto, Lucas Nascimento, and João Amaral for their collaboration during field work, and other colleagues who gave support during the project development, such as Luíza Teixeira-Costa, Natalia Altobelli, and Plácido Buarque. We also thank Instituto Florestal do Estado de São Paulo and COTEC for grating the sampling license. Funding for this project was provided by São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP (2015/09329-0). Giuliano Locosselli also thanks the São Paulo Research Foundation (2015/25511-3). Philipp Pitsch and Stefan Krottenthaler were founded by German Research Foundation (DFG AN214/10-1, DFG AN 214/10-2). Gregório Ceccantini was founded by CNPq (307041/2014-0).
MGV, GML, and GC designed the research; MGV collected the data; MGV, GML, GC, PP, SK, and DA analyzed and interpreted the data; GML and MGV led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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