Effects of deforestation on seed banks in a tropical deciduous forest of western Mexico

  • Miller P
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. Seed density and seed bank species composition were determined by germination trials on soils collected during the initial phase of deforestation in a Mexican tropical deciduous forest. The reference forest, pre-burn, 1-d post-burn, and l-y post-burn soils contained 700, 1000, 70 and 3500 germinating seeds m-2, of 30, 30, 8 and 13 species, respectively. A total of 43 dicotyledonous species were identified. Percentages of herbs, vines, shrubs and small trees/shrubs were similar in reference forest, pre-burn, and 1-d post-burn soils; herbs were the most common growth form. Pasture conversion greatly altered seed bank species composition; 81% of the species that germinated from the seed bank before burning were absent from the seed bank 1 d after the fires. One-year post-burn soil was dominated by monocots; only 3% of the seedlings were herbs; no vines, small trees/shrubs or trees germinated. The reference forest and the pre-burn soils had 18 dicot species in common and the highest similarity index, 0.43; six of the shared species were herbs. One-day and 1-y post-burn soils had the lowest similarity index, 0.05. Burn- ing the slashed forest and conversion to cattle pasture depleted the original seed bank, replacing it by one dominated by pasture grasses.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fire
  • Pasture
  • Regeneration
  • Seed density
  • Slash-and-burn
  • Species composition

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  • P. M. Miller

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