How Timber Harvest Affects the Structure and Diversity of a Montane Forest in Southern Mexico

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Nayely Martínez-Meléndez, Neptalí Ramírez-Marcial, Pablo Martínez-Zurimendi, Manuel J. Cach-Pérez, José G. García-Franco (2021) - How Timber Harvest Affects the Structure and Diversity of a Montane Forest in Southern Mexico - Forests/mdpi

Timber extraction directly affects forest structure by opening the canopy, reducing the density and volume of dominant species, and transforming the composition, diversity, and functioning of the forest. We analyze the richness, diversity, and basal area of tree species in a pine–oak montane forest under two stages of the Silvicultural Development Method (thinning and liberation cut treatments) in comparison with remnants of forest considered to be control treatment in the
Ocotones forest. Timber extraction began 14 years previously but its effect on the tree structure has not been studied to date in this area. We quantified and measured all the trees with a diameter at breast height >5 cm in 12 0.1 ha circular plots in each treatment. Diversity (Hill numbers) and the importance value index were calculated in each treatment. Observed species richness did not differ between treatments; Pinus oocarpa Schiede ex Schltdl. and Quercus sapotifolia Liebm. were the dominant species regardless of treatment. The principal differences in density and basal area among the treatments were found between the small oaks and small pines. In general, tree density recovered in managed areas because of newly recruited pines and re-sprouting oaks. Although no significant reduction in species richness was detected between treatments, species composition and vegetation structure were modified by the extraction of pine timber and the permanence of many large oaks. Silvicultural treatments appear to create conditions favorable to the maintenance of species richness. The silvicultural interventions in the site meet the objectives of timber production, regeneration, and
biodiversity conservation; however, the question of how long the forest can maintain its species diversity and structure after timber extraction remains to be addressed.

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