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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The aftermath of abandonment: Secondary succession in Cocos nucifera plantations on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia

  • Author(s): Nagayama, Yoko
  • et al.

Island systems are especially vulnerable to the possibility of introduced species becoming invasive and crowding out native flora. Human disturbances such as clearing, development, grazing and agriculture have been known to facilitate the establishment of such disturbance-tolerant species. Cocos nucifera has been cultivated extensively on the lowland areas of the island of Moorea, French Polynesia since the 1800s and as coconut production become less profitable over time, plantations have been gradually abandoned as landowners look to more lucrative efforts. Plantations of varying ages of abandonment can be seen in different stages of succession around the island. Vegetation surveys were done on six sites (in three age classes) to assess the presence and abundance of native and invasive species and to study the changes in community structure over time. Decrease in groundcover and increase in aerial cover seem to indicate the pattern of succession most accurately. The number of invasive versus non-invasive and native versus non-native species did not change significantly as plantations aged.

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