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Forests 2017, 8(9), 339; doi:10.3390/f8090339

Traits and Resource Use of Co-Occurring Introduced and Native Trees in a Tropical Novel Forest

1
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Río Piedras 00926-1115, Puerto Rico
2
Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan 00931, Puerto Rico
3
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, San Juan 00936-8377, Puerto Rico
4
Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 July 2017 / Revised: 6 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 12 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Forest Ecology and Management for the Anthropocene)
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Abstract

Novel forests are naturally regenerating forests that have established on degraded lands and have a species composition strongly influenced by introduced species. We studied ecophysiological traits of an introduced species (Castilla elastica Sessé) and several native species growing side by side in novel forests dominated by C. elastica in Puerto Rico. We hypothesized that C. elastica has higher photosynthetic capacity and makes more efficient use of resources than co-occurring native species. Using light response curves, we found that the photosynthetic capacity of C. elastica is similar to that of native species, and that different parameters of the curves reflected mostly sun light variation across the forest strata. However, photosynthetic nitrogen use-efficiency as well as leaf area/mass ratios were higher for C. elastica, and both the amount of C and N per unit area were lower, highlighting the different ecological strategies of the introduced and native plants. Presumably, those traits support C. elastica’s dominance over native plants in the study area. We provide empirical data on the ecophysiology of co-occurring plants in a novel forest, and show evidence that different resource-investment strategies co-occur in this type of ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: introduced species; leaf C and N densities; novel forests; photosynthetic nitrogen use-efficiency; leaf mass per area introduced species; leaf C and N densities; novel forests; photosynthetic nitrogen use-efficiency; leaf mass per area
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fonseca da Silva, J.; Medina, E.; Lugo, A.E. Traits and Resource Use of Co-Occurring Introduced and Native Trees in a Tropical Novel Forest. Forests 2017, 8, 339.

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