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Natural regeneration increases ecosystem production and functional diversity in an abandoned Afrotropical moist forest landscape
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  • Enock Ssekuubwa,
  • Wouter van Goor,
  • Martijn Snoep,
  • Kars Riemer,
  • Fredrick Wanyama,
  • Daniel Waiswa,
  • Fred Yikii,
  • Mnason Tweheyo
Enock Ssekuubwa
Makerere University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Wouter van Goor
Face the Future
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Martijn Snoep
Face the Future
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Kars Riemer
Face the Future
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Fredrick Wanyama
Uganda Wildlife Authority
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Daniel Waiswa
Makerere University
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Fred Yikii
Makerere University
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Mnason Tweheyo
Makerere University
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The growing trend of agricultural abandonment necessitates understanding the development of regrowth forests on old fields in the context of forest restoration. However, the successional patterns of ecosystem functioning and functional diversity of afrotropical regrowth forests are rarely examined. We assessed whether aboveground biomass (AGB) and functional diversity (FD) vary with restoration age and proximity to old-growth forests, compared AGB and FD between regrowth and old-growth forests to measure restoration success and investigated the FD – AGB relationship. We sampled trees in 63 plots (2000 m2 each) in a regrowth forest and 5 plots in an old‐growth forest in 2011, 2014 and 2017. We calculated AGB using diameter, height and wood density. We collated species functional traits (dispersal modes, habitat types, fruit sizes and regeneration guilds) and computed FD measures (richness, evenness, dispersion, divergence and RaoQ’s entropy). AGB and FD measures (richness, dispersion and RaoQ) increased with restoration age. Functional divergence declined with increasing distance to the old-growth forest. Within 22 years, regrowth forests regained 22% of the AGB and recovered all FD measures of the old-growth forest. We found positive, negative and quadratic relationships between AGB and FD depending on the FD measure and forest type. We demonstrate that regrowth forests increase ecosystem production and functional diversity in abandoned areas, however they cannot substitute old-growth forests. Considering multiple measures of functional diversity in different habitats provides a better understanding of the influence of functional diversity on ecosystem functioning.
09 Oct 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
11 Oct 2021Submission Checks Completed
11 Oct 2021Assigned to Editor
03 Nov 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
15 Dec 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Dec 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
02 Aug 20221st Revision Received
03 Aug 2022Assigned to Editor
03 Aug 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Aug 2022Submission Checks Completed
24 Aug 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
23 Sep 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
13 Dec 20222nd Revision Received
14 Dec 2022Submission Checks Completed
14 Dec 2022Assigned to Editor
14 Dec 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Dec 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Jan 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
08 Feb 20233rd Revision Received
09 Feb 2023Submission Checks Completed
09 Feb 2023Assigned to Editor
09 Feb 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Feb 2023Editorial Decision: Accept