150-year legacy of land use on tree species composition in old-secondary forests of Jamaica
Article first published online: 5 OCT 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2010 British Ecological Society
Journal of Ecology
Volume 99, Issue 1, pages 113–121, January 2011
How to Cite
Chai, S.-L. and Tanner, E. V. J. (2011), 150-year legacy of land use on tree species composition in old-secondary forests of Jamaica. Journal of Ecology, 99: 113–121. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01742.x
- Issue published online: 22 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 5 OCT 2010
- Received 12 May 2010; accepted 26 August 2010 Handling Editor: Gerhard Zotz
- Blue Mountains;
- forest recovery;
- historical disturbance;
- land use history;
- old growth;
- palaeoecology and land-use history;
- secondary forest succession
1. The long term impacts of historical land use on montane tropical forest tree species composition and structure is unknown. We used old plantation survey maps of 19th century coffee plantations in the Blue and Port Royal Mountains of Jamaica to investigate the effects of land use history on forest tree species composition and structure after 150–170 years of re-growth.
2. We sampled trees (≥ 10 cm d.b.h.) in montane forests along eight 200 m × 5 m transects that ran across old plantation boundaries. We assumed that agriculture had been abandoned for at least 150 years in the old plantations, based on the present forest cover which has now re-grown to resemble old growth forest, and that what was described as forest on old maps remained forested throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Transects were located in montane forests between 1100 and 1500 m elevation, except for one transect which was in lower montane forest at 600 m elevation. For data analysis, transects were divided into three equal lengths, representing three forest types: old plantation, old edge and old growth.
3. There was no difference between old growth forest and old plantation forest or old edge forest in species density, endemic species richness or basal area. However we found a significantly higher percentage of individuals of endemic species in the old growth forest type.
4. The species composition of large and medium sized stems (20.1–95.0 cm) in the three forest types was different. The similarity between forest types of species with small stems (10–20 cm) suggests that succession follows an equilibrium model.
5.Synthesis. Old growth tropical montane forests are still different from forests on adjacent old plantations after 150–170 years of re-growth in having a higher percentage of individuals of endemic tree species, and in the tree species composition of large and medium-sized stems. While these old-secondary forests are not identical to old growth forest, they can have similar species density and basal area to old growth forests after two-centuries.