Spatial relations and population structure of a dominant tree along a treeline ecotone in the Tropical Andes: interactions at gradient and plant-neighbourhood scales
Palabras Claveelevation gradient, facilitation, local spatial structure, plant-plant interactions, safe-sites, treeline dynamics
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Background: Studies in temperate mountains suggest that plant-plant interactions modulate tree establishment above the forest line. In tropical mountains worldwide this issue remains largely unexplored. Aims: To analyse the population structure and local spatial relationships of a dominant tree at a species-rich tropical Andean forest line. Methods: We determined changes in the population structure of Diplostephium venezuelense along an elevation gradient between continuous forest and open páramo and analysed plant community structure and superficial rock cover in in the neighbourhood of saplings and adults at the upper forest line. Results: Sapling and adult densities were highest in low-altitude páramos adjacent to the forest line and at the borders of small forest islands. Saplings showed local spatial aggregation, were positively associated with small boulders and low shrubs and negatively associated with mosses and lichens. However, no spatial association was found between scattered adults in the páramo and saplings of other forest trees. Conclusions: Complex species-specific local spatial interactions, suggesting both facilitative and antagonistic effects, seem to modulate the establishment of the dominant tree D. venezuelense at and above the upper forest line. Nevertheless, the establishment of other tree species above continuous forests does not appear to be facilitated by the canopy cover offered by the isolated D. venezuelense individuals established in open páramo environments.
|Editor||Plant Ecology and Diversity 6(3-4): 343-353|
|Institución||Universidad de Los Andes|