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Acta Botanica Brasilica
versão impressa ISSN 0102-3306
MACHADO, Evandro Luiz Mendonça e OLIVEIRA-FILHO, Ary Teixeira de. Spatial patterns of tree community dynamics are detectable in a small (4 ha) and disturbed fragment of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2010, vol.24, n.1, pp.250-261. ISSN 0102-3306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-33062010000100027.
The dynamics of the tree community of a fragment of tropical semideciduous forest was investigated in south-eastern Brazil. Surveys were carried out in 2000 and 2005 in 29 20 × 20 m plots. The main purpose was to assess the possibility of detecting spatial patterns of dynamics that could be related to the heterogeneity of both the environment and disturbance history in a small forest area (4.0 ha). Rates of mortality and recruitment of trees and gain and loss of basal area were obtained for the whole sample, four pre-defined soil habitats, diameter classes and twelve tree populations. The tree community was rather unstable in the period, once mortality rates surpassed recruitment rates and loss rates of basal area surpassed gain rates all-over the area denoting the prevalence of a degradation process, possibly triggered by a clear felling in 1985 that reduced the area of the fragment in 26%. The tree community dynamics showed no spatial autocorrelation but was not evenly distributed throughout the fragment. This spatial heterogeneity was chiefly determined by the disturbance history of each site while environmental heterogeneity played a secondary but significant role. The main causes of disturbance heterogeneity were the extension of the adjacent felled area, cattle trampling and selective logging. The environmental variables that most strongly correlated with the variations of the dynamics rates were those related to the availability of light, water and mineral nutrients. In contrast with the overall trends, three understory species expanded in the period, possibly at the expense of the steeply declining density of mid-sized trees.
Palavras-chave : Forest disturbance; Forest fragments; Forest regeneration; Tropical semideciduous forest.