Skip to main content

Importance of shade trees (Grevillea robusta) in the dispersal of forest tree species in managed tea plantations of southern Western Ghats, India

  • H. C. Chetana (a1) and T. Ganesh (a1)

Abandoned plantations of coffee, tea and other commercial crops offer opportunities for understanding ecological processes in modified forest ecosystems. Unlike tree plantations tea is maintained as a shrub with a continuous dense short canopy that precludes large-frugivore activity thereby limiting dispersal of forest species to such areas. In this study we determine how location and density of Grevillea robusta a shade tree in tea plantations and proximity of plantations to forests influences seed arrival from forests into the plantations. We also estimate the importance of dispersal modes in the colonization processes. We laid 10 × 10-m plots at three distance intervals from the forest edge in three different plantation types with varying shade tree densities. Within the plots we laid four 1× 1-m subplots at the corners of the plot. We estimated species richness, abundance and categorized the seeds into dispersal modes in these plots. Grevillea robusta increased species richness of seeds by three times and abundance of seeds by 3–30 times compared with plantations without them. Higher density of G. robusta increased seed input changed species composition and altered species dominance in the plantations. Distance to forests influenced seed arrival in plantations without G. robusta trees and plots 95 m from the forest did not have any seeds in them. No such effect was seen in plantations with G. robusta trees. Seeds dispersed by birds or a combination of birds and mammals contribute 30% of the seeds reaching the plantations with G. robusta and this was not influenced by distance from the forest. In plantations without G. robusta bird dispersal is restricted to 25 m from the forest edge. In general density of shade trees has a strong influence on seed arrival which can negate the forest proximity effect and enhance natural forest colonization.

Corresponding author
1Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All
ANDERSON, M. J. 2001. A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecology 26:3246.
ARELLANO, L., FAVILA, M. E. & HUERTA, C. 2005. Diversity of dung and carrion beetles in a disturbed Mexican tropical montane cloud forest and on shade coffee plantations. Biodiversity and Conservation 14:601615.
ARMBRECHT, I., PERFECTO, I. & VANDERMEER, J. 2004. Enigmatic biodiversity correlations: ant diversity responds to diverse resources. Science 304:284286.
BARBOSA, C. E. DE A., BENATO, T., CAVALHEIRO, A. L. & TOREZAN, J. M. D. 2009. Diversity of regenerating plants in reforestations with Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) O. Kuntze of 12, 22, 35, and 43 years of age in Parana State, Brazil. Restoration Ecology 17:6067.
CHAPMAN, C. A. & CHAPMAN, L. J. 1999. Forest restoration in abandoned agricultural land: a case study from East Africa. Conservation Biology 13:13011311.
CHARLES-DOMINIQUE, P. 1986. Inter-relations between frugivorous vertebrates and pioneer plants: Cecropia, birds and bats in French Guyana. Pp. 122135 in Estrada, A. & Fleming, T. H (ed.). Frugivores and seed dispersal. Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht.
CUBIÑA, A. & AIDE, T. M. 2001. The effect of distance from forest edge on seed rain and soil seed bank in a tropical pasture. Biotropica 33:260267.
DALLING, J. W. & HUBBELL, S. P. 2002. Seed size, growth rate and gap microsite conditions as determinants of recruitment success for pioneer species. Journal of Ecology 90:557568.
DATTA, A. & RAWAT, G. S. 2008. Dispersal modes and spatial patterns of tree species in a tropical forest in Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India. Tropical Conservation Science 1:163185.
DUNCAN, R. S. & CHAPMAN, C. A. 1999. Seed dispersal and potential forest succession in abandoned agriculture in tropical Africa. Ecological Applications 9:9981008.
GALINDO-GONZÁLEZ, J., GUEVARA, S. & SOSA, V. 2000. Bat- and bird-generated seed rains at isolated trees in pastures in a tropical rainforest. Conservation Biology 14:16931703.
GAMBLE, J. S. & FISCHER, C. E. C. 1915–1935. Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Parts I to XI. Secretary of State for India, London.
GANESH, T., GANESAN, R., DEVY, M. S., DAVIDAR, P. & BAWA, K. S. 1996. Assessment of plant biodiversity at a mid-elevation evergreen forest of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 71:379392.
GANESH, T. & DAVIDAR, P. 1997. Flowering phenology and flower predation of Cullenia exarillata (Bombacaceae) by arboreal vertebrates in Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 13:459468.
GANESH, T. & DAVIDAR, P. 1999. Fruit biomass and relative abundance of frugivores in a rain forest of southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15:399413.
GANESH, T. & DAVIDAR, P. 2001. Dispersal modes of tree species in the wet forests of southern Western Ghats. Current Science 80:394399.
GANESH, T. & DAVIDAR, P. 2005. Fruiting phenology and pre-dispersal seed predation in a rainforest in southern Western Ghats, India. Pp.139154 in Dew, J. L. & Boubli, J. P. (eds.). Tropical fruits and frugivores: the search for strong interactors. Springer, Dordrecht.
GORCHOV, D. L., CORNEJO, F., ASCORRA, C. & JARAMILLO, M. 1993. The role of seed dispersal in the natural regeneration of rain forest after strip-cutting in the Peruvian Amazon. Vegetatio 107/108;339349.
GOTELLI, N. J. & COLWELL, R. K. 2001. Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecology Letters 4:379391.
GUARIGUATA, M. R., RHEINGANS, R. & MONTAGNINI, F. 1995. Early woody invasion under tree plantations in Costa Rica: implications for forest restoration. Restoration Ecology 3:252260.
GUEVARA, S., LABORDE, J. & SÁNCHEZ-RIOS, G. 2004. Rain forest regeneration beneath the canopy of fig trees isolated in pastures of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. Biotropica 36:99108.
HARTLEY, M. J. 2002. Rationale and methods for conserving biodiversity in plantation forests. Forest Ecology and Management 155:8195.
HARVEY, C. A. 2000. Windbreaks enhance seed dispersal into agricultural landscapes in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Ecological Applications 10:155173.
HOLL, K. D. 1998. Do bird perching structures elevate seed rain and seedling establishment in abandoned tropical pasture? Restoration Ecology 6:253261.
HOLL, K. D. 2002. Effects of shrubs on tree seedling establishment in an abandoned tropical pasture. Journal of Ecology 90:179187.
HOLL, K. D., LOIK, M. E., LIN, E. H. V. & SAMUELS, I. A. 2000. Tropical montane forest restoration in Costa Rica: overcoming barriers to dispersal and establishment. Restoration Ecology 8:339349.
HUNTER, M. L. 1990. Wildlife, forests, and forestry: principles of managing forests for biological diversity. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs. 370 pp.
JANZEN, D. H. 1970. Herbivores and the number of tree species in tropical forest. American Naturalist 104:501528.
KOMAR, O. 2006. Ecology and conservation of birds in coffee plantations: a critical review. Bird Conservation International 16:123.
LUGO, A. E. 1997. The apparent paradox of reestablishing species richness on degraded lands with tree monocultures. Forest Ecology & Management 99:919.
MARTINEZ-GARZA, C., FLORES-PALACIOS, A., DE LA PENA-DOMENE, M. & HOWE, H. F. 2009. Seed rain in a tropical agricultural landscape. Journal of Tropical Ecology 25:541550.
McARDLE, B. H. & ANDERSON, M. J. 2001. Fitting multivariate models to community 3 data: a comment on distance-based redundancy analysis. Ecology 82:290297.
McCLANAHAN, T. R. & WOLFE, R. W. 1993. Accelerating forest succession in a fragmented landscape: the role of birds and perches. Conservation Biology 7:279288.
MEDINA, A., HARVEY, C. A., MERLO, D. S., VILCHEZ, S. & HERNÁNDEZ, B. 2007. Bat diversity and movement in an agricultural landscape in Matiguás, Nicaragua. Biotropica 39:120128.
MYERS, N., MITTERMEIER, R. A., MITTERMEIER, C. G., DA FONSECA, G. A. B. & KENT, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853858.
NORTON, D. A., 1998. Indigenous biodiversity conservation and plantation forestry: options for the future. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 43:3439.
PARROTTA, J. A., TURNBULL, J. & JONES, N. 1997. Catalyzing native forest regeneration on degraded tropical lands. Forest Ecology and Management 99:17.
PINEDA, E., MORENO, C., ESCOBAR, F. & HALFFTER, G. 2005. Frog, bat, and dung beetle diversity in the cloud forest and coffee agroecosystems of Veracruz, Mexico. Conservation Biology 19:400410.
RAMAN, T. R. S. 2006. Effects of habitat structure and adjacent habitats on birds in tropical rainforest fragments and shaded plantations in the Western Ghats, India. Biodiversity and Conservation 15:15771607.
RAMAN, T. R. S., MUDAPPA, D. & KAPOOR, V. 2009. Restoring rainforest fragments: survival of mixed-native species seedling under contrasting site conditions in the Western Ghats, India. Restoration Ecology 17:137147.
RAMESH, B. R., MENON, S. & BAWA, K. S. 1997. A vegetation based approach to biodiversity gap analysis in the Agastyamalai region, Western Ghats, India. Ambio 26:529536.
RICKETTS, T. H., DAILY, G. C., EHRLICH, P. R. & FAY, J. P. 2001. Countryside biogeography of moths in a fragmented landscape: biodiversity in native and agricultural habitats. Conservation Biology 15:378388.
ROSSI, J. 2011. rich: an R package to analyse species richness. Diversity 3:112120.
TEEGALAPALLI, K., HIREMATH, A. J. & JATHANNA, D. 2008. The role of perches in accelerating seed arrival in human-abandoned clearings within Bhadra Tiger reserve, India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 105:315322.
TEEGALAPALLI, K., HIREMATH, A. J. & JATHANNA, D. 2010. Patterns of seed rain and seedling regeneration in abandoned agricultural clearings in a seasonally dry tropical forest in India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 26:2533.
THOMAS, D. W., CLOUTIER, D., PROVENCHER, M. & HOULE, C. 1988. The shade of bird- and bat-generated seed shadows around a tropical fruiting tree. Biotropica 20:347348.
VAN TONGEREN, O. F. R. 1987. Cluster analysis. Pp. 174212 in Jongman, R. H. G., ter Braak, C. J. F. & van Tongeren, O. F. R. (eds.). Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Pudoc, Wageningen.
WILLIAMS-GUILLÉN, K., McCANN, C., MARTÍNEZ SÁNCHEZ, J. C. & KOONTZ, F. 2006. Resource availability and habitat use by mantled howling monkeys in a Nicaraguan coffee plantation: can agroforests serve as core habitat for a forest mammal? Animal Conservation 9:331338.
ZANINI, L. & GANADE, G. 2005. Restoration of Araucaria forest: the role of perches, pioneer vegetation, and soil fertility. Restoration Ecology 13:507514.
ZAR, J. H. 1999. Biostatistical analysis. (Fourth edition). Prentice-Hall International Editions, New Jersey. 663 pp.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed