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The role of cloud combing and shading by isolated trees in the succession from maquis to rain forest in New Caledonia

Rigg, L.S., Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505, Perry, G.L.W. and Miller, B.P. (2002) The role of cloud combing and shading by isolated trees in the succession from maquis to rain forest in New Caledonia. Biotropica, 34 (2). pp. 199-210.

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This study examined the role of shading and cloud combing of moisture by scattered trees of the emergent conifer Araucaria laubenfelsii (Corbass.) in montane shrubland-maquis at Mont Do, New Caledonia, in facilitating the succession from shrubland to rain forest. Water collection experiments showed that these trees combed significant amounts of water from low clouds on days when no rainfall was recorded and deposited this moisture on the ground beneath the tree canopy. Analysis of photosystem II function in A. laubenfelsii and five other plant species using fluorometry revealed much lower photosystem stress in plants beneath scattered A. laubenfelsii than for individuals exposed to full sunlight in the open maquis. Transition matrix analyses of vegetation change based on "the most likely recruit to succeed" indicated that the transition from maquis to forest was markedly faster when emergent trees of A. laubenfelsii acted as nuclei for forest species invasion of the maquis. On the basis of these lines of evidence, it is argued that increased moisture and shading supplied to the area directly below the crown of isolated A. laubenfelsii trees in the maquis facilitates the establishment of both conifer seedlings and other rain forest tree and shrub species. In the absence of fire, rain forest can reestablish through spread in two ways: first, by expansion from remnant patches, and second, from coalescence of small rain forest patches formed around individual trees of A. laubenfelsii.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Association for Tropical Biology
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