Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Liana density declined and basal area increased over 12 y in a subtropical montane forest in Argentina

  • Sergio Javier Ceballos (a1) and Agustina Malizia (a1)

Changes in density and basal area of lianas ≥2 cm diameter were monitored in two 1-ha permanent plots in a subtropical montane mature forest of north-western Argentina. Liana stems were identified and measured at 130 cm from the main rooting point in two censuses conducted in 2003 and 2015. Between censuses, the density of liana stems decreased 13.3%, while basal area increased 11.5%. Density and basal area decreased mainly among lianas of 2–3 cm diameter, but increased in lianas ≥4 cm diameter. Quechualia fulta (Asteraceae), Serjania meridionalis (Sapindaceae) and Chamissoa altissima (Amaranthaceae) suffered large reductions in stem density and basal area. Dissimilar responses of density and basal area of lianas might be a consequence of the suppression of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. livestock browsing) and the decrease of treefall gap frequency in the studied forest in recent decades. Light-demanding liana species decreased and shade-tolerant species increased possibly in response to the decline in the light availability associated with forest recovery from past disturbance. Lianas increased in basal area to a lesser extent compared with reports from several tropical and subtropical forests where lianas are increasing dramatically.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All
BIANCHI, A. R. & YÁÑEZ, C. 1992. Las Precipitaciones del Noroeste Argentino. INTA, Salta. 383 pp.
BONGERS, F. & EWANGO, C. E. N. 2015. Dynamics of lianas in DR Congo. Pp. 2335 in Schnitzer, S. A., Bongers, F., Burnham, R. J. & Putz, F. E. (eds). Ecology of lianas. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.
CABALLÉ, G. & MARTIN, A. 2001. Thirteen years of change in trees and lianas in a Gabonese rainforest. Plant Ecology 152:167173.
CABRERA, A. L. & WILLINK, A. 1980. Biogeografia de América Latina. Monografía No. 13. OEA, Washington, DC. 121 pp.
CAI, Z. Q., POORTER, L., CAO, K. F. & BONGERS, F. 2007. Seedling growth strategies in Bauhinia species: comparing lianas and trees. Annals of Botany 100:831838.
CAMPANELLO, P. I., GARIBALDI, J. F., GATTI, M. G. & GOLDSTEIN, G. 2007. Lianas in a subtropical Atlantic Forest: host preference and tree growth. Forest Ecology and Management 242:250259.
CAMPANELLO, P. I., VILLAGRA, M., GARIBALDI, J. F., RITTER, L. J., ARAUJO, J. J. & GOLDSTEIN, G. 2012. Liana abundance, tree crown infestation, and tree regeneration ten years after liana cutting in a subtropical forest. Forest Ecology and Management 284:213221.
CHAVE, J., OLIVIER, J., BONGERS, F., CHÂTELET, P., FORGET, P. M., VAN DER MEER, P., NORDEN, N., RIÉRA, B. & CHARLES-DOMINIQUE, P. 2008. Aboveground biomass and productivity in a rain forest of eastern South America. Journal of Tropical Ecology 24:355366.
CHEN, Y. J., BONGERS, F., CAO, K. F. & CAI, Z. Q. 2008. Above- and below-ground competition in high and low irradiance: tree seedling responses to a competing liana Byttneria grandifolia . Journal of Tropical Ecology 24:517524.
DEWALT, S. J., SCHNITZER, S. A. & DENSLOW, J. S. 2000. Density and diversity of lianas along a chronosequence in a central Panamanian lowland forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 16:119.
EASDALE, T. A., HEALEY, J. R., GRAU, H. R. & MALIZIA, A. 2007. Tree life histories in a mountain subtropical forest: forest species differ independently by shade-tolerance, turnover rate and substrate preference. Journal of Ecology 95:12341249.
EWANGO, C. E. N. 2010. The liana assemblage of a Congolian rainforest: diversity, structure and dynamics. Ph.D. thesis, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
FOSTER, J. R., TOWNSEND, P. A. & ZGANJAR, C. E. 2008. Spatial and temporal patterns of gap dominance by low-canopy lianas detected using EO-1 Hyperion and Landsat Thematic Mapper. Remote Sensing of Environment 112:21042117.
GERWING, J. J. 2004. Life history diversity among six species of canopy lianas in an old-growth forest of the eastern Brazilian Amazon. Forest Ecology and Management 190:5772.
GERWING, J. J. & FARIAS, D. L. 2000. Integrating liana abundance and forest stature into an estimate of aboveground biomass for an eastern Amazonian forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 16:327336.
GERWING, J. J., SCHNITZER, S. A., BURNHAM, R. J., BONGERS, F., CHAVE, J., DEWALT, S. J., EWANGO, C. E. N., FOSTER, R., KENFACK, D., MARTÍNEZ-RAMOS, M., PARREN, M., PARTHASARATHY, N., PÉREZ-SALICRUP, D. R., PUTZ, F. E. & THOMAS, D.W. 2006. A standard protocol for liana censuses. Biotropica 38: 256261.
GIANOLI, E., SALDAÑA, A., JIMÉNEZ-CASTILLO, M. & VALLADARES, F. 2010. Distribution and abundance of vines along the light gradient in a southern temperate rain forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 21:6673.
GILBERT, B., WRIGHT, S. J., MULLER-LANDAU, H. C., KITAJIMA, K. & HERNANDEZ, A. 2006. Life history trade-offs in tropical trees and lianas. Ecology 87:12811288.
GRAU, H. R. 2002. Scale-dependent relationships between treefalls and species richness in a neotropical montane forest. Ecology 83:25912601.
GRAU, H. R. & BROWN, A. D. 1998. Structure, composition, and inferred dynamics of a subtropical montane forest of northwestern Argentina. Pp. 715726 in Dallmaier, F. & Comiskey, J. A. (eds). Forest biodiversity in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Research and monitoring. MAB Series, Parthenon, Carnforth.
GRAU, H. R., HERNÁNDEZ, M. E., GUTIERREZ, J., GASPARRI, N. I., CASAVECCHIA, M. C., FLORES, E. E. & PAOLINI, L. 2008. A peri-urban Neotropical forest transition and its consequences for environmental services. Ecology and Society 13:35.
GRAU, H. R., PAOLINI, L., MALIZIA, A. & CARILLA, J. 2010. Distribución, estructura y dinámica de los bosques de la sierra de San Javier (Tucumán, Argentina). Pp. 3350 in Grau, H. R. (ed.). Ecología de una interfase natural-urbana. La sierra de San Javier y el Gran San Miguel de Tucumán. EDUNT, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina.
HEGARTY, E. E. & CABALLÉ, G. 1991. Distribution and abundance of vines in forest communities. Pp. 313335 in Putz, F. E. & Mooney, H. A. (eds). The biology of vines. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
INGWELL, L. L., WRIGHT, S. J., BECKLUND, K. K., HUBBELL, S. P. & SCHNITZER, S. A. 2010. The impact of lianas on 10 years of tree growth and mortality on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Journal of Ecology 98:879887.
KITAJIMA, K. 1994. Relative importance of photosynthetic traits and allocation patterns as correlates of seedling shade tolerance of 13 tropical trees. Oecologia 98:419428.
LAURANCE, W. F., ANDRADE, A. S., MAGRACH, A., CAMARGO, J. L. C., VALSKO, J. J., CAMPBELL, M., FEARNSIDE, P. M., EDWARDS, W., LOVEJOY, T. M. & LAURANCE, S. G. 2014. Long-term changes in liana abundance and forest dynamics in undisturbed Amazonian forest. Ecology 95:16041611.
LONDRÉ, R. A. & SCHNITZER, S. F. 2006. The distribution of lianas and their change in abundance in temperate forests over the past 45 years. Ecology 87:29732978.
MALIZIA, A. 2007. Interacciones entre lianas y árboles en una selva montana madura de las yungas argentinas. Ph.D. thesis, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina.
MALIZIA, A. & GRAU, H. R. 2006. Liana-host tree associations in a subtropical montane forest of north western Argentina. Journal of Tropical Ecology 22:331339.
MALIZIA, A. & GRAU, H. R. 2008. Landscape context and microenvironments influences on liana communities within treefall gaps. Journal of Vegetation Science 19:597604.
MALIZIA, A., GRAU, H. R. & LICHSTEIN, J. W. 2010. Soil phosphorus and disturbance influence liana communities in a subtropical montane forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 21:551560.
MALIZIA, A., EASDALE, T. A. & GRAU, H. R. 2013. Rapid structural and compositional change in an old-growth subtropical forest: using plant traits to identify probable drivers. PLoS ONE 8:e73546.
MORI, H., KAMIJO, T. & MASAKI, T. 2016. Liana distribution and community structure in an old-growth temperate forest: the relative importance of past disturbances, host trees, and microsite characteristics. Plant Ecology 217:11711182.
PANDIAN, E. & PARTHASARATHY, N. 2016. Decadal (2003–2013) changes in liana diversity, abundance and aboveground biomass in four inland tropical dry evergreen forest sites of peninsular India. Journal of Forestry Research 27:133146.
PEÑALOSA, J. 1984. Basal branching and vegetative spread in two tropical rain forest lianas. Biotropica 16:19.
PHILLIPS, O. L., VÁSQUEZ MARTÍNEZ, R., ARROYO, L., BAKER, T. R., KILLEN, T., LEWIS, S. L., MALHI, Y., MONTEAGUDO MENDOZA, A., NEILL, D., NÚÑEZ VARGAS, P., ALEXIADES, M., CERÓN, C., DI FIORE, A., ERWIN, T., JARDIM, A., PALACIOS, W., SALDIAS, M. & VINCETI, B. 2002. Increasing dominance of large lianas in Amazonian forests. Nature 418:770774.
PUTZ, F. E. 1984. The natural history of lianas on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Ecology 65:17131724.
PUTZ, F. E. & HOLBROOK, N. M. 1991. Biomechanical studies of vines. Pp. 7397 in Putz, F. E. & Mooney, H. A. (eds). The biology of vines. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
ROEDER, M., HÖLSCHER, D. & KOSSMANN-FERRAZ, I. D. 2012. Traits and growth of liana regeneration in primary and secondary forests of central Amazonia. Applied Vegetation Science 15:108118.
SCHNITZER, S. A. 2005. A mechanistic explanation for global patterns of liana abundance and distribution. American Naturalist 166:262276.
SCHNITZER, S. A. & BONGERS, F. 2011. Increasing liana abundance and biomass in tropical forests: emerging patterns and putative mechanisms. Ecology Letters 14:397406.
SCHNITZER, S. A., DALLING, J. W. & CARSON, W. P. 2000. The impact of lianas on tree regeneration in tropical forest canopy gaps: evidence for an alternative pathway of gap-phase regeneration. Journal of Ecology 88:655666.
SCHNITZER, S. A., KUZEE, M. & BONGERS, F. 2005. Disentangling above and below-ground competition between lianas and trees in a tropical forest. Journal of Ecology 93:11151125.
SCHNITZER, S. A., MANGAN, S. A., DALLING, J. W., BALDECK, C. A., HUBBELL, S. P., LEDO, A., MULLER-LANDAU, H., TOBIN, M. F., AGUILAR, S., BRASSFIELD, D., HERNANDEZ, A., LAO, S., PEREZ, R., VALDEZ, O. & YORKE, S. R. 2012. Liana abundance, diversity, and distribution on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. PLoS ONE 7:e52114.
SCHNITZER, S. A., VAN DER HEIJDEN, G., MASCARO, J. & CARSON, W. P. 2014. Lianas in gaps reduce carbon accumulation in a tropical forest. Ecology 95:30083017.
SCHNITZER, S. A., MANGAN, S. A. & HUBBELL, S. P. 2015. The lianas of Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Pp. 7690 in Schnitzer, S. A., Bongers, F., Burnham, R. J. & Putz, F. E. (eds). Ecology of lianas. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.
THOMAS, D., BURNHAM, R. J., CHUYONG, G., KENFACK, D. & SAINGE, M. N. 2015. Liana abundance and diversity in Cameroon's Korup National Park. Pp. 1122 in Schnitzer, S. A., Bongers, F., Burnham, R. J. & Putz, F. E. (eds). Ecology of lianas. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.
TOLEDO-ACEVES, T. & SWAINE, M. D. 2008. Effect of lianas on tree regeneration in gaps and forest understory in a tropical forest in Ghana. Journal of Vegetation Science 19:717728.
TORRES BRUCHMANN, E. 1978. Las clasificaciones climáticas de Koppen y Thornthwaite. Serie Didáctica Facultad de Agronomía y Zootecnia UNT 48:127.
VAN DER HEIJDEN, G. M. F. & PHILLIPS, O. L. 2009. Liana infestation impacts tree growth in a lowland tropical moist forest. Biogeosciences 6:22172226.
VAN DER HEIJDEN, G. M. F., POWERS, J. S. & SCHNITZER, S. A. 2015. Lianas reduce carbon accumulation and storage in tropical forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112:1326713271.
WRIGHT, S. J. & CALDERON, O. 2006. Seasonal, El Nino and longer term changes in flower and seed production in a moist tropical forest. Ecology Letters 9:3544.
WRIGHT, S. J., CALDERON, O., HERNANDEZ, A. & PATON, S. 2004. Are lianas increasing in importance in tropical forests? A 17-year record from Panama. Ecology 85:484489.
YORKE, S. R., SCHNITZER, S. A., MASCARO, J., LETCHER, S. G. & CARSON, W. P. 2013. Increasing liana abundance and basal area in a tropical forest: the contribution of long-distance clonal colonization. Biotropica 45:317324.
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