Question: Do traits of liana regeneration differ among secondary forest types of varying land-use history and primary forest?
Location: Eighty kilometers north of Manaus, Brazil.
Methods: We compared plant functional traits and growth rates of liana regeneration (<1.7-m length) among two secondary forest types and primary forest. Secondary forest types were: Vismia (on land formerly clear-cut, used for pasture and intensively burned) and Cecropia (no pasture usage or intensive fires after clear-cut).
Results: A principal components analysis indicated that most of the primary forest species exhibited a similar habit and were characterized by short shoots and small, round leaves with low specific leaf area, whereas secondary forest species had a broad range of trait values. At the plot level, primary and secondary forest communities were separated mainly by plant length and leaf size. Plant size varied more within secondary than within primary forest plots. The two secondary forest types could not be separated based on the traits of liana regeneration. Relative growth rate (RGR) did not correlate significantly with any measured plant trait, except for a negative relation to initial length. RGR increased with decreasing canopy cover and was highest in Vismia forest plots.
Conclusion: Plant functional traits of liana regeneration were more similar in the primary forest and differed substantially from secondary forests, yet canopy cover only partly explained the observed differences.