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Impact of selective logging on genetic composition and demographic structure of four tropical tree species

Degen B., Blanc L., Caron H., Maggia L., Kremer A., Gourlet-Fleury S.. 2006. Biological Conservation, 131 : p. 386-401.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.02.014

Over-exploitation and fragmentation are serious problems for tropical forests. Most sustainable forest management practices avoid clear-cuts and apply selective logging systems focused on a few commercial species. We applied a simulation model to estimate the impact of such selective logging scenarios on the genetic diversity and demography of four tropical tree species from French Guiana. The simulations used data on genetic and demographic composition, growth, phenology and pollen and seed dispersal obtained for Dicorynia guianensis, Sextonia rubra, Symphonia globulifera and Vouacapoua americana at the experimental site in Paracou. Whereas Symphonia globulifera serves as a model for a species with low logging pressure, the other three species represent the most exploited tree species in French Guiana. In simulations with moderate logging, typical for French Guiana, with large cutting diameter (>60 cm diameter) and long cutting cycles (65 years), the two species V. americana and Sextonia rubra were not able to recover their initial stock at the end of the rotation period, with a large decrease in the number of individuals and in basal area. Under a more intensive logging system (cutting diameter >45 cm diameter, cutting cycles of 30 years) that is common practice in the Brazilian Amazon, only Symphonia globulifera showed no negative impact. Generally, the differences between the genetic parameters in the control scenarios without logging and the logging scenarios were surprisingly small. The main reasons for this were the overlapping of generations and the effective dispersal ability of gene vectors in all species, which guarantee relative homogeneity of the genetic structure in different age classes. Nevertheless, decreasing the population size by logging reduced the number of genotypes and caused higher genetic distances between the original population and the population at the end of the logging cycles. Sensitivity analysis showed that genetic changes in the logging scenarios were principally determined by the growth, densities and cutting diameter of each species, and only to a very small extent by the reproductive system including factors such as pollen and seed dispersal and flowering phenology.

Mots-clés : abattage d'arbres; biodiversité; phénologie; composition botanique; dissémination des graines; variation génétique

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