Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Data from: Land-use intensification effects on functional properties in tropical plant communities
    Carreno Rocabado, Geovana ; Pena Claros, Marielos ; Bongers, Frans ; Díaz, Sandra ; Quétier, Fabien ; Chuviñoa, José ; Poorter, Lourens - \ 2015
    Wageningen University & Research
    agriculture - tropical forest - functional diversity - secondary forest - land use intensity - functional traits - plant community - pastureland - present
    There is consensus that plant diversity and ecosystem processes are negatively affected by land-use intensification (LUI), but, at the same time, there is empirical evidence that a large heterogeneity can be found in the responses. This heterogeneity is especially poorly understood in tropical ecosystems. We evaluated changes in community functional properties across five common land-use types in the wet tropics with different land-use intensity: mature forest, logged forest, secondary forest, agricultural land, and pastureland, located in the lowlands of Bolivia. For the dominant plant species, we measured 12 functional response traits related to their life history, acquisition and conservation of resources, plant domestication, and breeding. We used three single-trait metrics to describe community functional properties: community abundance-weighted mean (CWM) traits values, coefficient of variation, and kurtosis of distribution. The CWM of all 12 traits clearly responded to LUI. Overall, we found that an increase in LUI resulted in communities dominated by plants with acquisitive leaf trait values. However, contrary to our expectations, secondary forests had more conservative trait values (i.e., lower specific leaf area) than mature and logged forest, probably because they were dominated by palm species. Functional variation peaked at intermediate land-use intensity (high coefficient of variation and low kurtosis), which included secondary forest but, unexpectedly, also agricultural land, which is an intensely managed system. The high functional variation of these systems is due to a combination of how response traits (and species) are filtered out by biophysical filters and how management practices introduced a range of exotic species and their trait values into the local species pool. Our results showed that, at local scales and depending on prevailing environmental and management practices, LUI does not necessarily result in communities with more acquisitive trait values or with less functional variation. Instead of the widely expected negative impacts of LUI on plant diversity, we found varying responses of functional variation, with possible repercussions on many ecosystem services. These findings provide a background for actively mitigating negative effects of LUI while meeting the needs of local communities that rely mainly on provisioning ecosystem services for their livelihoods.
    Water-use advantage for lianas over trees in tropical seasonal forests
    Chen, Y.J. ; Cao, K.F. ; Schnitzer, S.A. ; Fan, Z.X. ; Zhang, J.L. ; Bongers, F. - \ 2015
    New Phytologist 205 (2015)1. - ISSN 0028-646X - p. 128 - 136.
    rain-forest - canopy trees - soil-water - sw china - aboveground biomass - secondary forest - eastern amazonia - stomatal control - stable-isotopes - woody-plants
    •Lianas exhibit peak abundance in tropical forests with strong seasonal droughts, the eco-physiological mechanisms associated with lianas coping with water deficits are poorly understood. •We examined soil water partitioning, sap flow, and canopy eco-physiological properties for 99 individuals of 15 liana and 34 co-occurring tree species in three tropical forests that differed in soil water availability. •In the dry season, lianas used a higher proportion of deep soil water in the karst forest (KF; an area with severe seasonal soil water deficit (SSWD)) and in the tropical seasonal forest (TSF, moderate SSWD), permitting them to maintain a comparable leaf water status than trees in the TSF or a better status than trees in the KF. Lianas exhibited strong stomatal control to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing dry season water loss. During the dry period, lianas significantly decreased water consumption in the TSF and the KF. Additionally, lianas had a much higher maximum photosynthetic rates and sap flux density in the wet season and a lower proportional decline in photosynthesis in the dry season compared with those of trees. •Our results indicated that access to deep soil water and strong physiological adjustments in the dry season together with active wet-season photosynthesis may explain the high abundance of lianas in seasonally dry forests.
    Biomass is the main driver of changes in ecosystem process rates during tropical forest succession
    Lohbeck, M.W.M. ; Poorter, L. ; Martinez-Ramos, M. ; Bongers, F. - \ 2015
    Ecology 96 (2015)5. - ISSN 0012-9658 - p. 1242 - 1252.
    plant functional traits - predict litter decomposition - secondary forest - land-use - biodiversity experiment - neotropical forests - tree productivity - species richness - carbon storage - leaf traits
    Over half of the world's forests are disturbed, and the rate at which ecosystem processes recover after disturbance is important for the services these forests can provide. We analyze the drivers' underlying changes in rates of key ecosystem processes (biomass productivity, litter productivity, actual litter decomposition, and potential litter decomposition) during secondary succession after shifting cultivation in wet tropical forest of Mexico. We test the importance of three alternative drivers of ecosystem processes: vegetation biomass (vegetation quantity hypothesis), community-weighted trait mean (mass ratio hypothesis), and functional diversity (niche complementarity hypothesis) using structural equation modeling. This allows us to infer the relative importance of different mechanisms underlying ecosystem process recovery. Ecosystem process rates changed during succession, and the strongest driver was aboveground biomass for each of the processes. Productivity of aboveground stem biomass and leaf litter as well as actual litter decomposition increased with initial standing vegetation biomass, whereas potential litter decomposition decreased with standing biomass. Additionally, biomass productivity was positively affected by community-weighted mean of specific leaf area, and potential decomposition was positively affected by functional divergence, and negatively by community-weighted mean of leaf dry matter content. Our empirical results show that functional diversity and community-weighted means are of secondary importance for explaining changes in ecosystem process rates during tropical forest succession. Instead, simply, the amount of vegetation in a site is the major driver of changes, perhaps because there is a steep biomass buildup during succession that overrides more subtle effects of community functional properties on ecosystem processes. We recommend future studies in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning to separate the effects of vegetation quality (community-weighted mean trait values and functional diversity) from those of vegetation quantity (biomass) on ecosystem processes and services. Read More:
    Structure and composition of the liana assemblage of a mixed rainforest in the Congo Basin
    Ewango, C.E.N. ; Bongers, F. ; Makana, J.R. ; Poorter, L. ; Sosef, M.S.M. - \ 2015
    Plant Ecology and Evolution 148 (2015)1. - ISSN 2032-3913 - p. 29 - 42.
    barro-colorado island - tree alpha-diversity - tropical forest - silvicultural treatments - habitat associations - community structure - species-diversity - secondary forest - lowland forest - growth-rates
    Background and aims – The Congo Basin lowland forest represents one of the largest tropical forest blocks in the world, but its liana assemblage has never been characterized. We evaluate liana floristics, diversity, and structure in the Ituri Forest, and determine the effects of forest structure and edaphic variation on liana species composition. Methods – Two permanent 10-ha plots (200 × 500 m), 500 m apart, were established in mixed forest. All liana individuals = 2 cm dbh were identified, measured, mapped, and marked. For 20 × 20 m subplots we distinguished terra firme and swamp, and we estimated canopy openness. Key results – The combined 20-ha area contains 15,008 lianas (dbh = 2 cm) representing 195 species, 83 genera, and 34 families. Per hectare, species number averaged 64, mean basal area was 0.71 m2 and mean Fisher's alpha, Shannon index, and Simpson diversity index values were 17.9, 3.1 and 11.4, respectively. Ten dominant plant families represented 69% of total species richness, 92% of liana abundance and 92% of basal area, while ten dominant species accounted for 63% of abundance and 59% of basal area. A single species, Manniophyton fulvum, dominated the liana community (22% of all individuals). Forty-one species (21%) had one individual only. Twiners, zoochorous, light-demanding, and meso- or microphyllous species dominated. Liana abundance increased with abundance of medium-sized and large trees but was, surprisingly, independent of small-tree abundance. Canopy openness, habitat type, and tree size were the most important factors influencing abundance and distribution of liana individuals. Conclusions – The Ituri liana assemblage stands out by showing an extreme one-species dominance. Species floristic composition is, however, generally similar to that in other tropical African forests.
    Integrating Stand and Soil Properties to Understand Foliar Nutrient Dynamics during Forest Succession Following Slash-and-Burn Agriculture in the Bolivian Amazon
    Broadbent, E.N. ; Zambrano, A.M.A. ; Asner, G.P. ; Soriano, M. ; Field, C.B. ; Souza, H.R. de; Pena Claros, M. ; Adams, R.I. ; Dirzo, R. ; Giles, L. - \ 2014
    PLoS ONE 9 (2014)2. - ISSN 1932-6203 - 23 p.
    carbon-isotope discrimination - tropical rain-forests - n-15 natural-abundance - northeastern costa-rica - below-ground carbon - land-use change - n-p ratios - secondary forest - organic-matter - brazilian amazon
    Secondary forests cover large areas of the tropics and play an important role in the global carbon cycle. During secondary forest succession, simultaneous changes occur among stand structural attributes, soil properties, and species composition. Most studies classify tree species into categories based on their regeneration requirements. We use a high-resolution secondary forest chronosequence to assign trees to a continuous gradient in species successional status assigned according to their distribution across the chronosequence. Species successional status, not stand age or differences in stand structure or soil properties, was found to be the best predictor of leaf trait variation. Foliar d13C had a significant positive relationship with species successional status, indicating changes in foliar physiology related to growth and competitive strategy, but was not correlated with stand age, whereas soil d13C dynamics were largely constrained by plant species composition. Foliar d15N had a significant negative correlation with both stand age and species successional status, – most likely resulting from a large initial biomass-burning enrichment in soil 15N and 13C and not closure of the nitrogen cycle. Foliar %C was neither correlated with stand age nor species successional status but was found to display significant phylogenetic signal. Results from this study are relevant to understanding the dynamics of tree species growth and competition during forest succession and highlight possibilities of, and potentially confounding signals affecting, the utility of leaf traits to understand community and species dynamics during secondary forest succession.
    Trade-off between light interception efficiency and light use efficiency: implications for species coexistence in one-sided light competition
    Onoda, Y. ; Saluñga, J.B. ; Akutsu, K. ; Aiba, S.I. ; Yahara, T. ; Anten, N.P.R. - \ 2014
    Journal of Ecology 102 (2014)1. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 167 - 175.
    herbaceous plant community - temperate rain-forest - secondary forest - canopy structure - carbon gain - height - growth - photosynthesis - populations - stratification
    1. Taller plant species can pre-empt solar energy and suppress growth of subordinate species in vegetation stands, which is described through one-sided competition. Yet, in much of the world’s vegetation species of different statures coexist. This study aims to clarify the mechanisms underlying this apparent paradox. 2. We quantified how co-occurring species and individuals intercepted and used light for growth in a mature, warm-temperate evergreen forest. This was performed by determining the 3D distribution of foliage and light with a ground-based lidar system in combination with nondestructive measurements of plant growth. 3. Taller trees intercepted light more efficiently per unit of above-ground biomass than shorter trees did (=higher light interception efficiency, LIE). However, taller trees tended to have lower biomass production per unit light interception (=lower light use efficiency, LUE). Reduced LUE in taller trees was associated with their higher biomass allocation to nonphotosynthetic organs and probably with over-saturated light intensity for photosynthesis at high canopy positions. Due to the increased LIE and decreased LUE with tree heights, a trade-off between LIE and LUE was found, and this trade-off resulted in trees of different statures having similar relative growth rates. 4. Synthesis. Light competition drives trees to grow taller, and the light interception efficiency is higher in taller trees; however, this benefit comes at a cost of decreased efficiency of light use for growth. This trade-off allows trees of different statures to grow at proportionally comparable rates and may promote coexistence of tree species in one-sided light competition.
    Predicting Tropical Dry Forest Successional Attributes from Space: Is the Key Hidden in Image Texture?
    Gallardo-Cruz, J.A. ; Meave, J.A. ; Gonzalez, E.J. ; Lebrija Trejos, E.E. ; Romero-Romero, M.A. ; Perez-Garcia, E.A. ; Gallardo-Cruz, R. ; Hernandez-Stefanoni, J.L. ; Martorell, C. - \ 2012
    PLoS ONE 7 (2012)2. - ISSN 1932-6203
    greenhouse-gas emissions - thematic mapper imagery - remotely-sensed data - landsat tm data - secondary forest - biomass estimation - cross-validation - climate-change - rain-forest - countryside biogeography
    Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem-service provision will increasingly depend on the existence of secondary vegetation. Our success in achieving these goals will be determined by our ability to accurately estimate the structure and diversity of such communities at broad geographic scales. We examined whether the texture (the spatial variation of the image elements) of very high-resolution satellite imagery can be used for this purpose. In 14 fallows of different ages and one mature forest stand in a seasonally dry tropical forest landscape, we estimated basal area, canopy cover, stem density, species richness, Shannon index, Simpson index, and canopy height. The first six attributes were also estimated for a subset comprising the tallest plants. We calculated 40 texture variables based on the red and the near infrared bands, and EVI and NDVI, and selected the best-fit linear models describing each vegetation attribute based on them. Basal area (R-2 = 0.93), vegetation height and cover (0.89), species richness (0.87), and stand age (0.85) were the best-described attributes by two-variable models. Cross validation showed that these models had a high predictive power, and most estimated vegetation attributes were highly accurate. The success of this simple method (a single image was used and the models were linear and included very few variables) rests on the principle that image texture reflects the internal heterogeneity of successional vegetation at the proper scale. The vegetation attributes best predicted by texture are relevant in the face of two of the gravest threats to biosphere integrity: climate change and biodiversity loss. By providing reliable basal area and fallow-age estimates, image-texture analysis allows for the assessment of carbon sequestration and diversity loss rates. New and exciting research avenues open by simplifying the analysis of the extent and complexity of successional vegetation through the spatial variation of its spectral information.
    Seasonal differences in leaf-level physiology give lianas a competitive advantage over trees in a tropical seasonal forest
    Cai, Z.Q. ; Schnitzer, S.A. ; Bongers, F. - \ 2009
    Oecologia 161 (2009)1. - ISSN 0029-8549 - p. 25 - 33.
    barro-colorado island - rain-forest - eastern amazonia - functional-groups - secondary forest - nitrogen-content - climbing plants - elevated co2 - moist forest - dry forest
    Lianas are an important component of most tropical forests, where they vary in abundance from high in seasonal forests to low in aseasonal forests. We tested the hypothesis that the physiological ability of lianas to fix carbon (and thus grow) during seasonal drought may confer a distinct advantage in seasonal tropical forests, which may explain pan-tropical liana distributions. We compared a range of leaf-level physiological attributes of 18 co-occurring liana and 16 tree species during the wet and dry seasons in a tropical seasonal forest in Xishuangbanna, China. We found that, during the wet season, lianas had significantly higher CO2 assimilation per unit mass (A mass), nitrogen concentration (N mass), and ¿13C values, and lower leaf mass per unit area (LMA) than trees, indicating that lianas have higher assimilation rates per unit leaf mass and higher integrated water-use efficiency (WUE), but lower leaf structural investments. Seasonal variation in CO2 assimilation per unit area (A area), phosphorus concentration per unit mass (P mass), and photosynthetic N-use efficiency (PNUE), however, was significantly lower in lianas than in trees. For instance, mean tree A area decreased by 30.1% from wet to dry season, compared with only 12.8% for lianas. In contrast, from the wet to dry season mean liana ¿13C increased four times more than tree ¿13C, with no reduction in PNUE, whereas trees had a significant reduction in PNUE. Lianas had higher A mass than trees throughout the year, regardless of season. Collectively, our findings indicate that lianas fix more carbon and use water and nitrogen more efficiently than trees, particularly during seasonal drought, which may confer a competitive advantage to lianas during the dry season, and thus may explain their high relative abundance in seasonal tropical forests
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