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Phylogenetic diversity correlated with above‐ground biomass production during forest succession: Evidence from tropical forests in Southeast Asia

Satdichanh, Manichanh, Ma, Huaixia, Yan, Kai, Dossa, Gbadamassi G.O., Winowiecki, Leigh, Vågen, Tor‐G., Gassner, Anja, Xu, Jianchu, Harrison, Rhett D.
Thejournal of ecology 2019 v.107 no.3 pp. 1419-1432
aboveground biomass, altitude, biocenosis, biodiversity, biomass production, climate, climate change, community structure, ecological function, forest restoration, forest succession, montane forests, phylogeny, secondary forests, soil, soil fertility, surveys, tropical forests, Mekong River, South East Asia
Enhancing knowledge on the role of evolutionary history during forest succession and its relationship with ecosystem function is particularly relevant in the context of forest landscape restoration for climate change mitigation and adaptation. We used fine resolution vegetation and environmental data (soil, elevation and slope) from two large‐scale surveys (320 × 1000 m² plots in two 10 km × 10 km blocks) in the Upper Mekong to quantify (1) the role of abiotic and biotic (species interactions) factors in community assembly processes and (2) the effect of biodiversity, environmental factors and forest succession on above‐ground biomass (AGB). We found strong correlation between soil fertility and community structure in the early successional seres, while species interactions played an increasingly important role in older seres, presumably due to species complementary. We detected a significant relationship between AGB and phylogenetic diversity, elevation and soil fertility across successional gradients. Within successional stages, soil fertility was not significantly associated with AGB, while elevation was significantly associated with AGB only in forest <100 years old. Phylogenetic diversity was positively correlated with AGB in the young secondary forest (< 15 years old) but not significantly associated with AGB in older seres. Synthesis. Our results support the hypothesis that abiotic filtering influences species assembly in the initial stages of forest succession, while biotic interactions dominate community assembly processes in older seres. We found that phylogenetic diversity, soil fertility and elevation gradients were strongly predictive of AGB in a secondary tropical montane forest in Southeast Asia. However, elevation may reflect other underlying abiotic gradients, such as water availability. Phylogenetic diversity was significantly associated with AGB only in youngest seres (<15 years old). Considering phylogenetic diversity in restoration plantings and the management of forests younger than 15 years old could enhance forest biomass and the climate mitigation function forest landscape restoration.