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Contrasting population dynamics of the endemic new Caledonian conifer Araucaria laubenfelsii in maquis and rain forest

Rigg, L.S., Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505, Jaffré, T. and Perry, G.L.W. (2010) Contrasting population dynamics of the endemic new Caledonian conifer Araucaria laubenfelsii in maquis and rain forest. Biotropica, 42 (4). pp. 479-487.

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This study compares demographic parameters and population dynamics for high disturbance (maquis) and low disturbance (rain forest) environments of the montane conifer, Araucaria laubenfelsii, in New Caledonia. The establishment, growth, survival and reproduction of ca 2500 individuals were followed in permanent plots over 10 yr. Growth and survival rates for A. laubenfelsii show that it is a long-lived, slow growing tree, with evidence of suppression in the sapling size classes in mature rain forest. Growth rates for all size classes are generally faster in maquis than rain forest. Transition matrix analyses estimated positive rates of population increase (λ values>1), with populations expanding in maquis, and stable in mature forest. Araucaria laubenfelsii is able to regenerate continuously in maquis and early successional rain forest, but recruitment is limited in older stands. Life table response experiment analyses showed that reproduction, and transitions from sapling to mature tree stage, contributed positively to λ in maquis, but negatively in forest. Araucaria laubenfelsii on Mont Do can be considered a long-lived pioneer, with early maquis colonizers helping to drive succession from maquis to forest. While opportunities for recruitment decline with time as rain forest sites develop a closed canopy, occasional gap phase recruitment, combined with disturbance by cyclones, landslides and fire, provide opportunities to ensure species persistence. Understanding contrasting population dynamics of A. laubenfelsii in maquis and rain forest will better facilitate conservation management of this species, particularly given current high rates of land conversion and degradation in New Caledonia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Association for Tropical Biology
Copyright: © 2010 The Authors
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