Landslide early succession in a neotropical dry forest

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Abstract

Early succession on large landslides in highly humanized areas that have a tropical dry climate is not well studied. This study documented vegetation recovery during the first 4 years after disturbance at a landslide on Casita Volcano, Nicaragua. We aimed to determine the main pathways and causes of change in community features, such as richness, biovolume, and species composition and verify the role played by environmental heterogeneity. Data consisting on number, covers and mean height of woody species and several abiotic factors related to fertility and stability of substrates were obtained from permanent plots in previously defined zones. Pathways of early succession were highly contingent on abiotic heterogeneity and landscape context and were mainly controlled by abiotic factors associated with fertility of substrates, and incidence of human disturbances. Those results might form the basis of a model of early succession on landslides located in densely populated areas within tropical dry ecosystems. Our results suggest that, rather than focusing research on large-scale disturbances, the study of succession in landslides of the type that occurred on Casita Volcano must point towards the response of ecosystems to a much more complex disturbance regime, in which human-induced disturbances play a major role.

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