Nine years of climber community dynamics in a Nigerian lowland rain forest 31 years after a ground fire

Uwalaka, Nelson ; Muoghalu, Joseph Ikechukwu (12/30/2016)

Vol.26, No.4

Journal

Successional studies in tropical forests have generally emphasized the tree component, ignoring the community dynamics of non-tree life-forms, and so there is a limited understanding of how the plant community as a whole is changing during succession within forests. Thus, this study examined the changes in climber community composition and structure in a regenerating secondary lowland rain forest at Ile-Ife that was ravaged by a ground fire 31 years ago using six sample plots. All individual climbers in each sample plot were identified, enumerated and their girths at breast height were measured. The girths were measured at 1.3 m height or just before the point of branching. Our data were compared with those of previous studies in the forest to determine the changes in floristics and structure of climber community over the years using Sorenson’s similarity index. The mortality and recruitment rates in the forest during the course of succession were determined. Climber species increased from 49 (2005) to 61 (2014). Climber density increased astronomically from 448–1152 ha⁻¹ (2005) to 1712–4492 ha⁻¹ but basal area only increased slightly from 0.37–1.10 m² ha⁻¹ (2005) to 0.40–1.14 m² ha⁻¹. The recruitment rate (8%) was higher than the mortality rate (5.8%). The similarity of the climber species composition calculated using the Sorenson similarity index showed that the similarity between the two periods of study was 0.53 (53%). This study concluded that during the study period, the climber community changed, and climber species abundance and structure increased