Low-intensity logging and hunting have long-term effects on seed dispersal but not fecundity in Afrotropical forests.
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Hunting and logging, ubiquitous human disturbances in tropical forests, have the potential to alter the ecological processes that govern population recruitment and community composition. Hunting-induced declines in populations of seed-dispersing animals are expected to reduce dispersal of the tree species that rely on them, resulting in potentially greater distance- and density-dependent mortality. At the same time, selective logging may alter competitive interactions among tree species, releasing remaining trees from light, nutrient or space limitations. Taken together, these disturbances may alter the community composition of tropical forests, with implications for carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem function. To evaluate the effects of hunting and logging on tree fecundity and seed dispersal, we use 3 years of seed rain data from a large-scale observational experiment in previously logged, hunted and protected forests in northern Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). We find that low-intensity logging had a meaningful long-term effect on species-specific seed dispersal distances, though the direction and magnitude varied and was not congruent within dispersal vector. Tree fecundity increased with tree diameter, but did not differ appreciably across disturbance regimes. The species-specific dispersal responses to logging in this study point towards the long-lasting toll of disturbance on ecological function and highlight the necessity of conserving intact forest.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1093/aobpla/ply074
Publication InfoNuñez, Chase L; Clark, James S; Clark, Connie J; & Poulsen, John R (2019). Low-intensity logging and hunting have long-term effects on seed dispersal but not fecundity in Afrotropical forests. AoB PLANTS, 11(1). pp. ply074. 10.1093/aobpla/ply074. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18063.
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Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science
James S. Clark is Nicholas Professor of Environment Science and Professor of Statistical Science. Clark’s research focuses on how global change affects populations, communities, and ecosystems. Current projects explore consequences of climate, CO2, and disturbance on dynamics of forests. His lab is using long-term experiments and monitoring studies to determine disturbance and climate controls on the dynamics of 20th century forests in combination with extensive modeling to fo
National Science Foundation Graduate Research FellowNeil Williams President's Fellow
Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology
John Poulsen is an ecologist with broad interests in the maintenance and regeneration of tropical forests and conservation of biodiversity. His research has focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, such as logging and hunting, on forest structure and diversity, abundance of tropical animals, and ecological processes. He has conducted most of his research in Central Africa, where he has also worked as a conservation manager, directing projects to sustainably manage natural resources i
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