Change in species composition with repeated shifting cultivation: Limited role of soil nutrients

  • Lawrence D
  • Suma V
  • Mogea J
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The effect of repeated, long-fallow shifting cultivation on tree species com- position in secondary forest fallows was examined in a village established over 200 years ago in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Seven 9–12-yr-old fallows that had previously been cultivated 1–10 times were compared with three primary forest stands. Species composition in secondary forests was strongly related to the number of prior cultivation cycles expe- rienced at a site. A systematic shift resulted from significant increases or decreases in the abundance of 27 of the 59 most common species with repeated cultivation. Seventeen additional species were limited to ‘‘early’’ (1–4 cycles) or ‘‘late’’ (6–10 cycles) in the history of cultivation. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and carbon (C) stocks in the top 15 cm of soil were higher in sites that had experienced more cultivation–fallow cycles. For Ca, Mg, and K, these differences were due only to inherent soil fertility, highest in sites with the longest cultivation history. In contrast, P, N, and C stocks increased significantly with the number of prior cultivation cycles after accounting for inherent soil fertility. Soil nutrients were significantly related to the basal area of more than half of 21 species tested. For 13 species, the response to nutrients (positive, negative, or neutral) was consistent with their response to repeated cultivation. Soil nutrient effects only partially explained the systematic shift in species composition that occurred during 200 years of long-fallow shifting cultivation.We propose that, for some species, dispersal ability compensated for a negative response to repeated cultivation, and dispersal failure doomed other species that initially responded positively

Author-supplied keywords

  • Indonesia
  • Rainforest
  • Secondary forest
  • Seed dispersal
  • Shifting cultivation
  • Soil nutrients
  • Species composition

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  • Deborah Lawrence

  • V. Suma

  • Johanis P. Mogea

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