Recovery of tree and mammal communities during large-scale forest regeneration in Kibale National Park, Uganda

Patrick A. Omeja, Michael J. Lawes, Amélie Corriveau, Kim Valenta, Dipto Sarkar, Fernanda Pozzan Paim, Colin A. Chapman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Tropical landscapes are changing rapidly as a result of human modifications; however, despite increasing deforestation, human population growth, and the need for more agricultural land, deforestation rates have exceeded the rate at which land is converted to cropland or pasture. For deforested lands to have conservation value requires an understanding of regeneration rates of vegetation, the rates at which animals colonize and grow in regenerating areas, and the nature of interactions between plants and animals in the specific region. Here, we present data on forest regeneration and animal abundance at four regenerating sites that had reached the stage of closed canopy forest where the average dbh of the trees was 17 cm. Overall, 20.3 percent of stems were wind-dispersed species and 79.7 percent were animal-dispersed species, while in the old-growth forest 17.3 percent of the stems were wind-dispersed species. The regenerating forest supported a substantial primate population and encounter rate (groups per km walked) in the regenerating sites was high compared to the neighboring old-growth forests. By monitoring elephant tracks for 10 yr, we demonstrated that elephant numbers increased steadily over time, but they increased dramatically since 2004. In general, the richness of the mammal community detected by sight, tracks, feces, and/or camera traps, was high in regenerating forests compared to that documented for the national park. We conclude that in Africa, a continent that has seen dramatic declines in the area of old-growth forest, there is ample opportunity to reclaim degraded areas and quickly restore substantial animal populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)770-779
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiotropica
    Volume48
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2016

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