Data from: Plantings accelerate restoration of tropical forest but assembly mechanisms appear insensitive to initial composition


1. Phylogenetic and trait-based approaches to community ecology are increasingly being used to test for nonrandom community assembly and are now being applied to assessments of habitat restoration. A critical question for the restoration of tropical forests is how plantings influence the recruitment of new species, and specifically the phylogenetic and functional diversity of restored habitats. 2. We examined 8 years (2006-2014) of tropical forest recruitment in two restoration planting compositions (12 animal-dispersed and 12 wind-dispersed tree species) and a control (no plantings) in 24 plots, Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. Specifically, we assessed the influence of plantings on newly arriving individuals’ phylogenetic, functional, taxonomic diversity, abundance and the change of these measures during early succession. 3. The recruiting individuals’ phylogenetic, functional, taxonomic diversity and abundance increased through succession. Both animal-dispersed plantings and wind-dispersed plantings appeared to accelerate forest succession more than controls (natural succession), and the recruits’ diversities in the animal-dispersed plantings were marginally higher after 8 years. We did not find any difference in recruiting individuals’ phylogenetic and functional dispersion (measured as standardized effect sizes) in any given year or when measured as turnover between successive pairs of years between planting composition and the control plots. 4. Recruiting individuals were phylogenetically clustered during early forest restoration regardless of treatment. At the same time, the recruits transitioned from appearing to be constructed randomly to being clustered based on functional traits, which suggests the increase of recruits’ functional similarity during early succession. 5. Synthesis and applications. The plantings accelerated the increase of recruiting individuals’ phylogenetic, functional, taxonomic diversity and abundance during early succession, although planting treatment did not appear to alter community assembly mechanisms of recruiting individuals. Our findings support restoration plantings by showing that planting trees with animal dispersal syndromes could accelerate forest restoration more than unassisted forest regeneration. Further, communities appeared to be phylogenetically and functionally clustered during early succession regardless of initial planted composition. Thus, while overall diversity increased with plantings, if a restoration goal is to maximize phylogenetic or functional dispersion, the planting composition tested did not provide means to achieve this goal, at least during early succession.19-Jun-201

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Electronic Archiving System

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This paper was published in Electronic Archiving System.

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