European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 93–110 | Cite as

Ecological strategies of tree species in the laurel forest of Tenerife (Canary Islands): an insight into cloud forest natural dynamics using long-term monitoring data

  • Elias GanivetEmail author
  • Olivier Flores
  • Eduardo Balguerías
  • Lea de Nascimento
  • José Ramón Arévalo
  • Silvia Fernández-Lugo
  • José Maria Fernández-Palacios
Original Paper


In Tenerife (Canary Islands), the laurel forest is considered one of the most biodiverse ecosystems of the archipelago. This study aims at providing useful information about tree species strategies and their natural dynamics in order to improve understanding of the functioning of this ecosystem. The knowledge gained would be of great importance for laurel forest conservation, not only in the Canaries, but also in Madeira and the Azores. Our main research question is: ‘Are the ecological groups of laurel forest tree species, described in earlier studies based exclusively on regeneration strategies, consistent with species functional traits, growth patterns and spatial distributions?’ We used data from six 50 × 50 m permanent plots established in 1999 and re-measured in 2015, combined with information on twelve functional traits from newly produced data or extracted from previous studies. For each species, we analyzed the abundance of seedlings/suckers, saplings and adults inside the permanent plots. Two ordination methods were used to assess multivariate differences in functional traits between species. Different mixed-effect models were tested to investigate effects of sites, individual tree size and competition on tree growth rates. Finally we analyzed the spatial distribution of both saplings and adults and their interaction within the six permanent plots. Our results were consistent with a classification of species into different ecological groups based on (1) their shade tolerance: light-demanding versus shade-tolerant species and (2) their reproductive strategies: sexual (i.e., seedlings), asexual (i.e., suckers) or both. These differences between light-demanding versus shade-tolerant and/or seedling-producing species versus sucker-producing species were consistently observed across the species functional traits, growth patterns and spatial distributions. Only one species, Viburnum rigidum Vent., presented singularities compared with its previously established group. Because V. rigidum is mostly an understory species, we proposed to add a third aspect to the classification scheme: understory versus canopy species. This led to a total of six ecological groups within fourteen laurel forest tree species. Finally, this study also showed that the Tenerife laurel forest is still maturing and becoming richer in species, which outlines the importance of its preservation.


Anaga Rural Park Functional traits Growth modeling Laurel forests Permanent plots Spatial analyses Tenerife 



Complete spatial randomness


Diameter at breast height


Apollonias barbujana


Erica arborea


Erica scoparia


Heberdenia excelsa


Ilex canariensis


Ilex perado


Laurus novocanariensis


Morella faya


Ocotea foetens


Persea indica


Picconia excelsa


Prunus lusitanica


Rhamnus glandulosa


Visnea mocanera


Viburnum rigidum



The first author acknowledges funding support from the Région Aquitaine (France) as well as the European Union as part of the Erasmus + internship program. We are grateful to Lukas Rester, Johannes Gebler, Linda Carstens, Zaira Negrín-Pérez and Richard Bigley for assistance with fieldwork. Finally, we record our appreciation to Mark Bloomberg for editing the English as well as six anonymous reviewers for giving useful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Supplementary material

10342_2018_1156_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1453 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Botánica, Ecología y Fisiología Vegetal, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de La LagunaLa LagunaSpain
  2. 2.UMR Peuplements Végétaux et Bioagresseurs en Milieu TropicalUniversité de la RéunionSaint DenisFrance

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