Pathways and Determinants of Early Spontaneous Vegetation Succession in Degraded Lowland of South China

Authors

  • Wen-Jun Duan,

    1. ( Heshan Hilly Land Interdisciplinary Experimental Station, South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
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  • Hai Ren,

    Corresponding author
    1. ( Heshan Hilly Land Interdisciplinary Experimental Station, South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
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  • Sheng-Lei Fu,

    1. ( Heshan Hilly Land Interdisciplinary Experimental Station, South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
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  • Qin-Feng Guo,

    1. USDA – Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC 28804, USA
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  • Jun Wang

    1. ( Heshan Hilly Land Interdisciplinary Experimental Station, South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
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  • Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30200035) and Field Station Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to Heshan Hilly Land Interdisciplinary Field Station, CAS

*Author for correspondence.
Tel: +86 (0)20 3725 2916;
Fax: +86 (0)20 3725 2916;
E-mail :<renhai@scib.ac.cn>.

Abstract

Continuous and prolonged human disturbances have caused severe degradation of a large portion of lowland in South China, and how to restore such degraded ecosystems becomes an increasing concern. The process and mechanisms of spontaneous succession, which plays an important role in vegetation restoration, have not been adequately examined. To identify the pathways of early spontaneous vegetation succession, 41 plots representing plant communities abandoned over different times were established and investigated. The communities and indicator species of the vegetation were classified by analyzing the important values of plant species using multivariate analyses. The results indicated that the plant species could be classified into nine plant communities representing six succession stages. The pathway and species composition also changed in the process of succession. We also measured 13 environmental variables of microtopography, soil structure and soil nutrition in each plot to examine the driving forces of succession and the vegetation-environment relationships. Our results showed that the environmental variables changed in diverse directions, and that soil bulk density, soil water capacity and soil acidity were the most important factors.

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