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Removing other tree species does not benefit the timber species Cephalosphaera usambarensis

  • Author(s): Waser, Nickolas M
  • Price, Mary V
  • Mbwambo, John Richard
  • Forest Consortium, TBA Amani
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License

The endemic canopy tree Cephalosphaera usambarensis is a valuable timber species in montane rainforest of Tanzania. Here we evaluate an experiment in which mature trees of species other than C. usambarensis were removed from an area in the East Usambara Mountains. We compared stage/size structure of the trees in this  area   to structure in three nearby control areas from which potential competitors had not been removed. The removal area contained a slightly higher density of large C. usambarensis trees than did control areas, but these trees had not grown bigger than those in control areas in the quarter century since removal. Furthermore, the removal area contained far fewer newly-dispersed seeds, seedlings, or small sapling trees. Thus there is no evidence that removal of potential interspecific competitors enhances the population density or biomass (tree size x density of individuals) of the C. usambarensis population. Instead, removing other trees not only sacrifices local forest biodiversity, but also may harm future timber yield of C. usambarensis by suppressing recruitment of new individuals into the population.

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