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Understory plant species and functional diversity in the degraded wet tropical forests of Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands

Katovai, Eric and Burley, A.L. and Mayfield, M.M. (2012) Understory plant species and functional diversity in the degraded wet tropical forests of Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands. Biological Conservation, 145 (1). pp. 214-224. ISSN 0006-3207

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Anthropogenic activities have resulted in extensive deforestation and forest degradation on many tropical oceanic islands. For instance, some islands in the Solomon archipelago have as little as 10% of primary forests remaining with few of these remnants protected from future land use change. We examine the plant species and functional diversity (excluding adult canopy trees) of 48 sites from four forest land use types (two types of primary forest, secondary forest and abandoned tree plantations) and two common human-maintained land use types (coconut plantations and grazed pastures) across three elevation bands on Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands. In total, we surveyed 384 species from 86 families of which only 6.5% were non-native. Species richness was lowest in coconut plantations and grazed pastures and declined with increasing elevation across all land use types. Functional diversity was similar between primary and secondary forest (high richness, high evenness and unaltered dispersion) and lowest in coconut plantations and grazed pastures. Our results suggest that species and functional richness have had divergent responses to land use change in forest land uses indicative of a loss of functional redundancy. Despite structural and compositional similarities among primary forests and degraded forest land uses, full recovery of secondary and commercial plantations has not been achieved. We suggest that conservation of Kolombangara’s forest understory flora will require reserves across the island’s elevation gradient and may require active restoration in the future, particularly if degrading activities continue at the current rate.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
Depositing User: Eric Katovai
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2019 02:58
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2019 02:58

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