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Community Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 23–30 | Cite as

Disturbance, regeneration and the spatial pattern of tree species in Azorean mountain forests

  • R. B. EliasEmail author
  • E. Dias
  • F. Pereira
Article

Abstract

Disturbance related vegetation dynamics differs with Azorean mountain forest communities, where each tree species has its own regeneration strategy. Knowledge of the spatial distribution of tree species may help us to generate hypotheses on the relation between disturbance, regeneration and spatial organization and on the possible underlying ecological mechanisms. In view of this, we asked the following questions regarding the spatial pattern of tree species: What is the spatial distribution of saplings and adults? Are there any spatial associations or exclusions between saplings and adults of the same and different species? To what extent do the disturbance regimes and regeneration strategies of each species explain its spatial pattern? Six 225 m (15×15 m) plots were placed in each of three different forest types in three Islands (Pico, Terceira and Flores). Patterns of tree individuals were analysed through Morisita’s index of dispersion (Iδ) and Iwao ω index. With the exception of Laurus azorica and Frangula azorica. saplings are in most cases aggregated. Erica azorica is the only species whose adults are aggregated at short distances. Spatial distribution is mostly random for the other species. At short distances, few strong associations or exclusions were detected. Pioneer species such as Juniperus brevifolia tend to be more aggregated due to their dependence on gaps to germinate and recruit new individuals. In fact, increasing disturbance and gap size enhances the regeneration of J. brevifolia. Primary species tend to be randomly distributed in part due to their strategy of forming seedling-sapling banks. Spatial pattern of tree species is largely explained by disturbance regimes and regeneration strategies of each species. However, factors such as habitat related patchiness, competition and dispersion limitation may also explain many of the observed patterns.

Keywords

Competition Elfin cloud forests Juniperus brevifolia Regeneration Spatial distribution 

Abbreviations

Cav

Caveiro

MA

Morro Alto

PA1

Pico Alto 1

PA2

Pico Alto 2

PA3

Pico Alto 3

SB

Santa Bárbara

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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2011

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Azorean Biodiversity Group (CITA-A), Departamento de Cięncias AgráriasUniversidade dos AçoresAngra do Heroísmo, AzoresPortugal
  2. 2.Global Changes, Climate and Meteorology Centre (CITA-A)Universidade dos AçoresAngra do Heroísmo, AzoresPortugal

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