Nelson O. Uwalaka,
Joseph I. Muoghalu,
Afolabi O. Osewole,

Reference to article

Uwalaka N.O., Muoghalu J.I., Osewole A.O. 2017. Species diversity and successional dynamics in the secondary forest of Obafemi Awolowo University Biological Gardens Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Nature Conservation Research 3(1). DOI: 10.24189/ncr.2018.002

Section Resarch articles

Forests worldwide are being continuously disturbed by human activities and natural events, and tropical rainforest disturbance is specifically pronounced as indicated by its low biodiversity status. This study examined the floristic composition, species diversity and evenness in seven sample plots (100, 200, 400 and 2500 m2) in a secondary forest of different ages in the Biological Gardens of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The aim of this study was to determine changes in these parameters with succession. In each sample plot, all vascular plant species were accounted for and enumerated. The data collected were used to establish the floristic composition, density, diversity and evenness of plant species in the forest. There were 85 woody species (69%), 3 grass species (2%), 13 forb species (11%) and 21 climber species (17%) in the forest. These concern 113 genera and 52 families. The number of woody species in the plots varied with the age of the plots, however, there were no clear trends in the density and diversity of species with plot age. The forest was dominated by early successional species (50%) against the 33% contributed by the late successional species. Also, the youngest plot (Plot I) was dominated by early successional species while the older plots were dominated by a mixture of both early and late successional species. The similarity between plots during succession in the tropical forest was higher between plots of the same age. Also, this study showed that because of the directional pattern of succession, the species that converge to make up the diversity of forest of ages under consideration may be predictive of its recovery.


diversity, evenness, plant succession, secondary forest, similarity, successional species

Artice information

Received: 01.08.2017

The full text of the article

Ademoh F.O., Muoghalu J.I., Onwumere B. 2017. Temporal pattern of tree community dynamics in a secondary forest in southwestern Nigeria, 29 years after a ground fire. Global Ecology and Conservation 9: 148–170. DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2016.11.005
Aide T.M., Zimmermann J.K., Herrera L., Rosario M., Serrano M. 1995. Forest recovery in abandoned tropical pastures in Puerto Rico. Forest Ecology and Management 77: 77–86. DOI: 10.1016/0378-1127(95)03576-V
Allaby M. 2010. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, fourth ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 416 p.
Aweto A.O. 1981. Secondary succession and soil fertility restoration in South-Western Nigeria I, Succession. Journal of Ecology 69: 601–607. DOI: 10.2307/2259686
Ayodele O.J. 1986. Phosphorus availability in savanna soils of Western Nigeria. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 63: 297–300.
Capers R.S., Chazdon R.L., Brenes A.R., Alvarado B.V. 2005. Successional dynamics of woody seedling communities in wet tropical secondary forests. Journal of Ecology 93: 1071–1084. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2005.01050.x
Charter J.R. 1969. Map of Ecological zones of Nigerian Vegetation. Ibadan: Federal Department of Forestry.
Chazdon R.L. 2003. Tropical forest recovery: Legacies of human impact and natural disturbances. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 6: 51–71. DOI: 10.1078/1433-8319-00042
Chazdon R.L. 2008. Chance and determinism in tropical forest succession. In: W.P. Carson, S.A. Schnitzer (Eds.): Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. P. 384–408.
Chazdon R.L., Redondo Brenes A., Alvarado B.V. 2005. Effects of climate and stand age on annual tree dynamics in tropical second-growth rain forests. Ecology 86: 1808–1815. DOI: 10.1890/04-0572
Chazdon R.L., Letcher S., Breugel M., van Martinez-Ramos M., Bongers F., Finegan B. 2007. Rates of change in tree communities of secondary tropical forests following major disturbances. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 362: 273–289. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2006.1990
Chesson P., Huntly N. 1997. The roles of harsh and fluctuating conditions in the dynamics of ecological communities. American Naturalist 150: 519–553. DOI: 10.1086/286080
Connell J.H. 1978. Diversity in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Science 199: 1302–1310. DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4335.1302
Denslow J.S., Ellison A., Sanford R.E. 1998. Treefall gap size effects on ecological processes in a tropical wet forest. Journal of Ecology 86: 591–609. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2745.1998.00295.x
Dupuy J.M., Chazdon R.L. 2006. Effects of vegetation cover on seedling and sapling dynamics in secondary tropical wet forests in Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology 22: 1–22. DOI: 10.1017/S0266467405002890
Eggeling W.J. 1947. Observations on the ecology of the Budongo rainforest, Uganda. Journal of Ecology 34: 20–87. DOI: 10.2307/2256760
Fantini A.C., Siminski A., Guries R.P., Ruschel A.R., dos Reis M.S. 2011. Secondary forest succession in the Mata Atlantica, Brazil: Floristic and Phytosociological Trends. ISRN Ecology 2011: 1–20. DOI: 10.5402/2011/759893
FAO/UNESCO. 1974. Legend to Soil Map of the World. Vol.1. World soil classification. Paris: UNESCO. 59 p.
Finegan B. 1984. Forest succession. Nature 312: 109–114. DOI: 10.1038/315692a0
Finegan B. 1996. Pattern and process in neotropical secondary forests: the first 100 years of succession. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 119–124. DOI: 10.1016/0169-5347(96)81090-1
Gómez-Pompa A., Vázquez-Yanes C. 1981. Successional studies of a rain forest in Mexico. In: D.C. West, H.H. Shugart, D.B. Botkin (Eds.): Forest Succession: Concepts and Application. NewYork: Springer-Verlag. P. 246–266.
Guariguata M., Ostertag R. 2001. Neotropical secondary forest succession: changes in structural and functional characteristics. Forest Ecology and Management 148: 185–206. 10.1016/S0378-1127(00)00535-1
Horn H.S. 1981. Some causes of variety in pattern of secondary succession. In: D.C. West, H.H. Shugart, D.B. Botkin (Ed.): Forest Succession: Concepts and Application. NewYork: Springer-Verlag. P. 24–35.
Isichei A.O., Ekeleme F., Jimoh B.A. 1986. Changes in a secondary forest in South Western Nigeria following a ground fire. Journal of Tropical Ecology 2: 249–256. DOI: 10.1017/S0266467400000870
Keay R.W.J. 1959. An Outline of Nigerian Vegetation. 3rd edition. Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information, Printing Division. 46 p.
Lang G.E., Knight D.H. 1983. Tree growth, mortality, recruitment, and canopy gap formation during a 10-year period in a tropical moist forest. Ecology 64: 1075–1080. DOI: 10.2307/1937816
Laurance W.F., Ferreira L.V., Rankin-De Merina J.M., Laurance S.G. 1998. Rainforest fragmentation and the dynamics of the Amazonian tree communities. Ecology 79: 2032–2040. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(1998)079[2032:RFFATD]2.0.CO;2
Mitche T., Zimmerman J.K., Pascarella J.B., Rivera L., Marcano-Vega H. 2000. Forest regeneration in a chronosequence of tropical abandoned pastures: implications for restoration ecology. Restoration Ecology 8(4): 328–338. DOI: 10.1046/j.1526-100x.2000.80048.x
Noss R.S. 1996. Conservation of biodiversity at the landscape scale. In: R.C. Szaro, D.W. Johnston (Eds.): Biodiversity in Managed Landscapes: Theory and Practice. USA: Oxford. P. 574–589.
Ogunniran O., Muoghalu J.I. 2007. Vegetation types and composition in altitudinal gradient on an inselberg at Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Botany 20: 9–44.
Oliveira R.R. 2002. Ação antrópica e resultantes sobre a estrutura e composição da Mata Atlântica na Ilha Grande, R.J. Rodriguesia 53 (82): 33–58.
Oliver C.D., Larson B.C. 1990. Forest Stand Dynamics. NewYork: McGraw-Hill. 467 p.
Saldarriaga J.G., West D.C., Tharp M.L., Uhl C. 1988. Long-term chronosequence of forest succession in the upper Rio Negro of Colombia and Venezuela. Journal of Ecology 76: 938–958. DOI: 10.2307/2260625
Sheil D., Burslem D. 2003. Disturbing hypotheses in tropical forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 18–26. DOI: 10.1016/S0169-5347(02)00005-8
Tabarelli M., Mantovani W.A. 1999. A regeneração de uma floresta tropical montana após corte e queima (São Paulo - Brasil). Revista Brasileira de Biologia 59 (2): 239–250. DOI: 10.1590/S0034-71081999000200008
Toky O.P., Ramakrishnan P.S. 1983. Secondary succession following slash and burn agriculture in north-eastern India. I. Biomass, litterfall, and productivity. Journal of Ecology 71: 735–745. DOI: 10.2307/2259589
USDA. 1975. Soil Taxonomy, Agriculture Handbook. Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Van Gemerden B.S., Shu G.N., Olff H. 2003. Recovery of conservation values in Central African rain forest after logging and shifting cultivation. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 1553–1570. DOI: 10.1023/A:1023603813163
Walker L.R., Chapin F.S.I. 1987. Interactions among processes controlling successional change. Oikos 50: 131–135.
White F. 1983. The Vegetation of Africa. A descriptive memoir to accompany map of Africa. Paris: UNESCO. 356 p.