Demographic variation across successional stages and their effects on the population dynamics of the neotropical palm Euterpe precatoria
Fernández Otárola, Mauricio
Ávalos Rodríguez, Gerardo
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• Premise of the study: Environmental heterogeneity is a strong selective force shaping adaptation and population dynamics across temporal and spatial scales. Natural and anthropogenic gradients influence the variation of environmental and biotic factors, which determine population demography and dynamics. Successional gradients are expected to influence demographic parameters, but the relationship between these gradients and the species life history, habitat requirements, and degree of variation in demographic traits remains elusive. • Methods: We used the palm Euterpe precatoria to test the effect of successional stage on plant demography within a continuous population. We calculated demographic parameters for size stages and performed matrix analyses to investigate the demographic variation within primary and secondary forests of La Selva, Costa Rica. • Key results: We observed differences in mortality and recruitment of small juveniles between primary and secondary forests. Matrix models described satisfactorily the chronosequence of population changes, which were characterized by high population growth rate in disturbed areas, and decreased growth rate in old successional forests until reaching stability. • Conclusions: Different demographic parameters can be expressed in contiguous subpopulations along a gradient of successional stages with important consequences for population dynamics. Demographic variation superimposed on these gradients contributes to generate subpopulations with different demographic composition, density, and ecological properties. Therefore, the effects of spatial variation must be reconsidered in the design of demographic analyses of tropical palms, which are prime examples of subtle local adaptation. These considerations are crucial in the implementation of management plans for palm species within spatially complex and heterogeneous tropical landscapes.
External link to the item10.3732/ajb.1400089
- Biología