EFECTO DE LA PERTURBACIÓN EN LA COMUNIDAD DE HERBÁCEAS NATIVAS Y RUDERALES DE UNA SELVA ESTACIONAL MEXICANA
AbstractDisturbance in dry forests due to cattle ranching and wood extraction alters the herbaceous community. The objective of this study was to evaluate species richness, biomass, composition, and traditional use of native and ruderal herbs in 120 0.25 m2 plots distributed at random in ten sites of 50 × 50 m: four sites in secondary forest excluded from disturbance during 32 months, three sites in secondary forest under chronic disturbance during > 30 years, and three sites in preserved forest in the Sierra de Huautla, state of Morelos, Mexico. Disturbance in the dry forest has resulted in changes in herbaceous composition and increase of richness. The decrease in the tree density due directly to wood extraction or indirectly to cattle ranching had a larger effect on herbaceous richness because it favors the establishment of ruderal herbs. However, given that the cattle is probably the dispersal agent of these species, a lower richness of ruderal herbs is expected in areas without cattle ranching even under disturbance by selective extraction of wood. More native than ruderal herbs had a traditional use and 50% of them were only found in the secondary forest; these native species had not been replaced from this habitat even after decades of disturbance. The establishment of mosaics that include preserved forest, forest excluded, and other areas under use, will allow the maintenance of the community of herbs in coexistence with the economic activities of the region.
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