Are Juglans neotropica Plantations Useful as a Refuge of Bryophytes Diversity in Tropical Areas?

Life (Basel). 2021 May 12;11(5):434. doi: 10.3390/life11050434.


Neotropical montane forests are considered biodiversity hotspots, where epiphytic bryophytes are an important component of the diversity, biomass and functioning of these ecosystems. We evaluated the richness and composition of bryophytes in secondary successional forests and mixed plantations of Juglans neotropica. In each forest type, the presence and cover of epiphytic bryophytes was registered in 400 quadrats of 20 cm × 30 cm. We analyzed the effects of canopy openness, diameter at breast height (DBH) and forest type on bryophyte richness, using a generalized linear model (GLM), as well as the changes in species composition using multivariate analysis. Fifty-five bryophyte species were recorded, of which 42 species were in secondary forests and 40 were in mixed plantations. Bryophyte richness did not change at forest level; however, at tree level, richness was higher in the mixed plantation of J. neotropica compared to the secondary forests, due to the presence of species adapted to high light conditions. On the other hand, bryophyte communities were negatively affected by the more open canopy in the mixed plantation of J. neotropica, species adapted to more humid conditions being less abundant. We conclude that species with narrow microclimatic niches are threatened by deforestation, and J. neotropica plantations do not act as refuge for drought-sensitive forest species present in secondary forests.

Keywords: canopy openness; deforestation; epiphyte; montane forest; richness.