Loss of plant diversity at a gradient of intensification of sistemaagrícola of slash and burn: a case study in the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico
AbstractWe analyzed the effect of intensifying the traditional slash-and-burn system on floristic diversity in order to determine the threshold of frequency and duration of cultivation below which native woody species can be maintained.A total of 39 floristic inventories were conducted in the Northern Region of the Selva Lacandona of secondary vegetation with different ages (AE) and use history. We constructed an integrity index (II) that combines agricultural use intensity (number of years under cultivation) and frequency of slash-and-burn agriculture.We applied a canonical correspondence analysis to group the species according to AE and II. We found that fallows originated from slash-and-burn systems with low use intensity and low frequency can act as a reservoir of species of mature tropical forests. However, if the intensification trend of slash-and-burn continues toward longer periods of cultivation and higher frequencies of slash-and-burn, this will create a more homogeneous landscape with a very high contrast with the remaining forest patches, which will limit the dispersal, establishment and sustainability of the portion of primary species that could survive under conditions of low-intensive slash-and-burn agriculture.
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