Fragmentation in Araucaria araucana forests in Chile: quantification and correlation with structural variables

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Fragmentation in Araucaria araucana forests in Chile: quantification and correlation with structural variables

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Title: Fragmentation in Araucaria araucana forests in Chile: quantification and correlation with structural variables
Author: Molina Martínez, Juan Ramón; Martín Cuevas, Ángela; Drake Aranda, Fernando; Martín Martín, Luis Miguel; Herrera Machuca, Miguel Ángel
Abstract: Landscape fragmentation is one of the main threats to South American temperate forests due to population growth, conversion of native forests to plantations of exotic species and non-sustainable timber harvesting. The lack of forest connectivity can interfere with pollination, seed dispersal, biodiversity and landscape quality. Species with relatively limited seed dispersal are potentially more sensitive to the landscape fragmentation. Araucaria araucana (Mol.) K. Koch is a long-lived, slow-growing, relict conifer in South America’s temperate forests with large seeds possessing a limited dispersal range. The objective of the study was to identify priority areas for Araucaria conservation based on fragmentation quantification and correlation with structural variables and regeneration conditions. Results from the FRAGSTATS® and CONEFOR® software indicated that Araucaria connectivity has increased in sites located in the central Andean Range in comparison to other sites, because of reduced human and livestock pressure as well as the relative absence of commercial plantations. The proximity index ranged from 6.01 m to 34834.2 m, and the probability of connectivity has significantly increased (175663 ha) in the central Andean Range. Significant relationships were found between the Simpson’s index (or the probability of connectivity) and basal area, and between the mean largest patch index and crown diameter. The largest patch index (r = 0.6; p < 0.05) and the area-weighted mean proximity index (r = 0.767; p < 0.05) were the most important landscape metrics influencing Araucaria regeneration. Furthermore, the integration of spatial pattern analysis obtained from satellite images and aerial photographs with forest and regeneration characterization from field sampling allowed to identify the most vulnerable areas. The methodology presented here can assist in the identification of target areas for spatial conservation, including management needs under the current budget restrictions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10662/7284
Date: 2016


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