Tree Population Dynamics in a Low Elevation Evergreen Forest in the Western Ghats of Kerala, India

U.M. Chabdrashekara


Forest dynamics were studied for trees > 10.1 cm gbh in a 0.5 ha plot in a low elevation evergreen forest at Sivapuram in the Western Ghats of Kerala, India. The plot, established and inventoried for trees in 2000 and resurveyed in 2010, represented a fresh-water swamp forest dominated by Knema attenuata, Myristica malabarica, Holigarna arnottiana, Polyalthia fragrans and Hopea parviflora during both censuses. During the 10-year interval the tree species composition did not change and the overall changes in total stem density and basal area were small. Girth class distribution of trees showed a negative exponential pattern in both 2000 and 2010 and did not differ significantly between the two study periods. The arboreal community of the sampled plot found to be stable and dynamic as indicated by the mortality, recruitment rates, and consequently those of half-life and duplication period, are approximately balanced. The mortality of stem was size-dependent with higher values for density and basal area mortality rate in larger stems > 120.1 cm gbh due to natural death of old trees. Density and basal area recruitment were comparatively high in girth classes 10.1- 30.0 cm and 30.1 -60.0 cm respectively. These attributes suggest that the study area has remained in good condition since monitoring began in 2000.


Forest Dynamics; Freshwater Swamp Forest; Permanent Plot; Tree Basal Area; Tree Density; Tropical Forest


Ayyappan, N. and Parthasarathy, N. 1999. Biodiversity inventory of trees in a large-scale permanent plot of tropical evergreen forest at Varagalaiar, Anamalais, Western Ghats, India. Biodiversity Conservation 8: 1533-1554.

Baithalu, S.; Anbarashan, M. and Parthasarathy, N. 2012. Changes in tree diversity and stand structure of two tropical dry evergreen forests on the Coromandel coast of peninsular India over a decade (2001-2011). International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 38: 87-96.

Chandrashekara, U.M. and Jayaraman, K. 2002. Stand Structural Diversity and Dynamics in Natural Forests of Kerala. KFRI Research Report No. 232. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala.131 pages.

Coates, K.D. 2002. Tree recruitment in gaps of various size, clearcuts and undisturbed mixed forest of interior British Columbia, Canada. Forest Ecology and Management 155: 387-398.

Collins, N.M.; Sayer, J. A. and Whitmore, T. C. 1991. The Conser-vation Atlas of Tropical Rainforests: Asia and the Pacific. Macmillan, London. 335 pages.

Denslow, J.S. 1980. Patterns of plant species diversity during succession under different disturbance regimes. Oecologia 46: 18-21.

Fashing, P.J.; Forrestel. A.; Scully, C. and Cords, M. 2004. Long-term tree population dynamics and their implications for the conservation of the Kakamega Forest, Kenya. Biodiversity Conservation 13: 753-771.

Hubbell, S.P. and Foster, P.B. 1992. Short-term dynamics of a neotropical forest: why ecological research matters to tropical conservation and management. Oikos 63:48-61

Kershaw, K.A. 1973. Quantitative and Dynamic Plant Ecology. Edward Arnold, London. 308 pages.

Kohyama, T.; Ohyama, T.; Suzuki, E.; Partomiharjo, T.; Artomiharjo, T.; Yamad, T. and Kobo, T. 2003. Tree species differentiation in growth, recruitment and allometry in relation to maximum height of Bornean mixed dipterocarp forest. Journal of Ecology 91: 797-806.

Korning, J. and Balslev, H. 1994. Growth rates and mortality patterns of tropical lowland tree species and the relation to forest structure in Amazonian Ecuador. Journal of Tropical Ecology 10: 151-166.

Lang, G.L. and 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.

Laurance, W.F. and Bierregaard, R.O. 1997. Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Managements and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 616 pages.

Lieberman, D.; Hartshorn, G.S.; Lieberman, M. and Peralta, R.1990. Forest dynamics at La Selva biological station (1969-1985). Pages 509-521, In: Gentry, A.H. (Editor) Four neotropical rainforests. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Margalef, R. 1968. Perspective in Ecological Theory. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.111 pages.

Miura, M.; Manabe, E, T.; Nishimura, N. and Yamamoto, S. 2001. Forest canopy and community dynamics in a temperate old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest, south-western Japan: a 7-year study of a 4-ha plot. Journal of Ecology 89: 841-849.

Mori, S.A.; Boom, B.M.; De Carvalho, A.M. and Dos Santos, T.S. 1983. Southern Bahaian moist forests. Botanical Review 49: 155-232.

Myers, N. 1988. Tropical forests and their species: going, going . . ? Pages 28-35. In: Wilson E.O. (Editor) Biodiversity. National Academy Press, Washington.

Nebel, G.; Kvist, L.P.; Vanclay, J.K. and Vidaurre, H. 2001. Forest dynamics in flood plain forests in the Peruvian Amazon; effects of disturbance and implication for management. Forest Ecology and Management 150: 79-92.

Oliveira-Filho, A.T.; Mello, J.M. and Scolford, J.R.S.1997. Effects of past disturbance and edges on tree community structure and dynamics within a fragment of tropical semi-deciduous forest in south-eastern Brazil over a five-year period (1987-1992). Plant Ecology 131:45-66.

Parsons, R.F. and Cameron, D.S. 1974. Maximum plant species diversity in terrestrial communities. Biotropica 6: 202-203.

Pascal, J.P. 1988. Wet Evergreen Forests of the Western Ghats of India: Ecology, Structure, Floristic Composition and Success-ion. French Institute of Pondicherry, Pondicherry, India. 345 pages.

Pascal, J.P. and Pelissier, R. 1996. Structure and floristic composition of a tropical evergreen forest in the south-west India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 12: 191-214.

Phillips, O.L. 1996. Long-term environmental change in tropical forest: increasing tree turnover. Environmental Conservation 23: 235-248.

Phillips, O.L and Gentry, A.H. 1994. Increasing turnover through time in tropical forests. Science 263: 954-958.

Rai, S.N. 1981. Floristic composition and survival of rainforest tree species of Western Ghats, India. My Forest 2: 101-110.

Richards, P.W. 1996. The Tropical Rainforest. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 600 pages.

Runkle, J.R. 2000. Canopy tree turnover in old-growth mesic forests of eastern North America. Ecology 81: 554-567.

Sheil, D.; Jennings, S. and Savill, P. 2000. Long-term permanent plot observations of vegetation dynamics in Budongo, a Ugandan rainforest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 16: 765-800.

Sheil, D. and May, R.M. 1996. Mortality and recruitment rate evalu-ations in heterogenous tropical forests. Journal of Ecology 84: 91-100.

Simpson, E.H. 1949. Measurement of diversity. Nature 163:688.

Singh, J.S.; Singh, S.P.; Saxena, A.K. and Rawat, Y.S. 1981. The Silent Valley Forest Ecosystem and Possible Impact of Proposed Hydroelectric Project: Reports on the Silent Valley Study. Ecological Research Circle, Kumaun University, Nainital, India. 86 pages.

Stork, N.E. 2010. Reassessing extinctive rates. Biodiversity and Conservation 19: 357-371.

Sukumar, R.; Suresh, H.S.; Dattaraja, H.S. and Joshi, N.V. 1998. Dynamics of tropical deciduous forest: population changes (1988 through 1993) in a 50-ha plot at Mudumalai, Southern India. Pages 529-540. In: Dallmeier, F. and Comiskey, J.A. (Editors). Forest Biodiversity Research, Monitoring and Modelling: Conceptual Background and Old World Case Studies. Parthenon Publishing, Paris.

Swaine, M.D.; Lieberman, D. and Putz, F.E. 1987. The dynamics of tree populations in tropical forest: a review. Journal of Tropical Ecology 3: 359-366.

Whitmore, T.C. 1984. Tropical Rainforests of the Far East. Second edition). Oxford University Press, Oxford. 352 pages.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

COPYRIGHT of this Journal vests fully with the National Instional Institute of Ecology. Any commercial use of the content on this site in any form is legally prohibited.