Resource Details

Evaluation of Andean alder as a catalyst for the recovery of tropical cloud forests in Colombia

Literature: Journal Articles

Murcia, Carolina. 1997, "Evaluation of Andean alder as a catalyst for the recovery of tropical cloud forests in Colombia", Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 99, no. 1-2, pp. 163-170.


  • Wildlife Conservation Society, 185th St. and Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, NY 10460, USA
  • Fundación Ecoandina, AA 25527, Cali, Colombia 


Forest Ecology and Management

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Species Info

  • Alnus acuminata


  • This study compares the species composition and structural diversity of 30-year-old alder plantations with adjacent, naturally regenerated forests of the same age.
  • The purpose of the study is to determine if alder plantations are an appropriate catalyst for forest regeneration for conserving biological diversity and to determine if the differences between the two forest types are maintained over time.
  • The two forest types are compared based on measurements of species diversity, DBH, stem diameter and canopy cover, and estimates of crown height and understory leaf area.
  • Alder plantations are found to have a taller, even canopy (18-22m), while the naturally regenerated forest plots exhibit a shorter, uneven canopy (14-25m).
  • Alder plantations are also observed to have two distinct strata, with a nearly foliage-free gap between the understory and the canopy (composed almost entirely of the crowns of alder trees), whereas, the naturally regenerated forest exhibits no obvious vertical stratification.
  • The average stem density and basal area is the same for the two forest type, and no relationship was found between the two canopy types and understory leaf area.
  • With regard to species diversity, the naturally regenerated plots were found to be significantly more diverse and spatially heterogeneous, with one-half of the species present in the two plots exclusive to the naturally regenerated forest and one-eighth exclusive to the alder plots.
  • Distinct differences between the two plot types, such as fewer epiphytes and fewer thick snags in alder plots, could be related to the homogeneous canopy of the alder plots and may explain differing diversity levels.
  • The author exerts that natural regeneration of deforested land is the preferable strategy for reforestation in order to favor higher biodiversity levels; however, she explains that on land with highly eroded or unstable soils, with remote seed sources, natural regeneration my occur too slowly, so that forest recovery might possibly be aided by plantings including alder.

Geographical Region

  • Andean Region
  • Ecosystems

  • Montane Forest
  • Country

  • Colombia
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