Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Book chapters
DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-92706-8_16
Title (Primary) Old-growth temperate rainforests of South America: conservation, plant-animal interactions, and baseline biogeochemical processes
Title (Secondary) Old-growth forests. Function, fate and value
Author Armesto, J.J.; Smith-Ramírez, C.; Carmona, M.R.; Celis-Diez, J.L.; Díaz, I.A.; Gaxiola, A.; Gutiérrez, A.G.; Núñez-Avila, M.C.; Pérez, C.A.; Rozzi, R.
Publisher Wirth, C.; Gleixner, G.; Heimann, M.
Journal Ecological Studies
Year 2009
Department OESA
Volume 207
Page From 367
Page To 390
Language englisch
Abstract A structural and compositional definition of old-growth forest is presented, which places emphasis on the lack of recurrent human impact, the presence of a shade-tolerant canopy with emergent pioneers, and a patch area that minimises edge effects. Using this definition, we provide an overview of the current conservation status, relevance of plant-animal interactions, and unique features of nutrient fluxes in old-growth forests of southern South America. Chile hosts the largest area and latitudinal extent of old-growth temperate forest remaining in the southern hemisphere, reaching 56° S in the Cape Horn Archipelago. Despite recent public and private efforts to protect remaining old-growth forests and their endemic biodiversity, they continue to decline steeply as a result of new routes of access to commercial stands, lack of protection of coastal areas, anthropogenic fire, and expansion of monoculture-based forestry toward higher latitudes and altitudes. Pollinators (insects and birds) and vertebrate frugivores (birds and an arboreal marsupial) are important mutualists of many Chilean rain forest trees, vines and epiphytes. There is evidence to suggest that some native pollinators and animal seed vectors may be highly susceptible to changes in forest structure due to loss of old-growth forest cover. Forest fragmentation and loss of keystone, animal-pollinated emergent trees due to logging and fires, have radically changed pollinator assemblages in rural landscapes, leading to reproductive dependence on European honey bees and other exotic species. Regarding other ecosystem functions, nutrient cycles in unpolluted old-growth forests of southern Chile are characterised by strong inorganic nitrogen (N) retention and large organic N leakage to forest streams. Non-symbiotic N fixation in litter and soil tends to increase in older stands. Knowledge of these "unpolluted nutrient cycles", particularly N and P, is still meager despite its relevance to understanding the consequences of increased global disruption of element cycles by humans. Development of baseline measurements and experiments in southern Chilean old-growth temperate forests can enhance our understanding of unpolluted ecosystem functioning.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Armesto, J.J., Smith-Ramírez, C., Carmona, M.R., Celis-Diez, J.L., Díaz, I.A., Gaxiola, A., Gutiérrez, A.G., Núñez-Avila, M.C., Pérez, C.A., Rozzi, R. (2009):
Old-growth temperate rainforests of South America: conservation, plant-animal interactions, and baseline biogeochemical processes
In: Wirth, C., Gleixner, G., Heimann, M. (eds.)
Old-growth forests. Function, fate and value
Ecological Studies 207
Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, p. 367 - 390