Floristic and structural recovery of a laurel forest community after clear-cutting: A 60 years chronosequence on La Palma (Canary Islands)
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We analyzed a post-clearcut chronosequence (0.5 to 60 years after harvesting) in the laurel forest of La Palma island (Canarian Archipelago) to determine the recovery of the stands with respect to species composition, richness, life strategies and structural parameters of the canopy. Multivariate analysis showed that exotic species, as well as annual ruderal species were confined to early-successional stages, while native perennials, typical of laurel forests, dominated the late-successional stages. Total species richness decreased significantly with time after clear-cutting. The relative fast recovery of understory native species may be due to low forest floor disturbance during harvesting. Shade-intolerant pioneer, pioneer-remnant and shade-tolerant late-successional species were the main life strategies of native tree species. Most structural parameters showed a continuous and monotonic increase (basal area, biomass) or decrease (density, percentage of photosynthetic biomass) during succession. Once clear-cutting, here performed with an interval of 8 years, is abandoned, the recovery of the laurel forest seems possible due to careful logging that protects the soil and a rapid asexual regeneration of native tree species, revealing this to be a sustainable management practice.