Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Lianas decelerate tropical forest thinning during succession

Medina-Vega, José A.; van der Heijden, Geertje M.F.; Schnitzer, Stefan A.

Lianas decelerate tropical forest thinning during succession Thumbnail


José A. Medina-Vega

Stefan A. Schnitzer


Josep Penuelas


The well-established pattern of forest thinning during succession predicts an increase in mean tree biomass with decreasing tree density. The forest thinning pattern is commonly assumed to be driven solely by tree-tree competition. The presence of non-tree competitors could alter thinning trajectories, thus altering the rate of forest succession and carbon uptake. We used a large-scale liana removal experiment over 7years in a 60- to 70-year-old Panamanian forest to test the hypothesis that lianas reduce the rate of forest thinning during succession. We found that lianas slowed forest thinning by reducing tree growth, not by altering tree recruitment or mortality. Without lianas, trees grew and presumably competed more, ultimately reducing tree density while increasing mean tree biomass. Our findings challenge the assumption that forest thinning is driven solely by tree-tree interactions; instead, they demonstrate that competition from other growth forms, such as lianas, slow forest thinning and ultimately delay forest succession.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 12, 2022
Publication Date 2022-06
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2023
Journal Ecology Letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 6
Pages 1432-1441
Keywords Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations