Resource Details

A 10-year evaluation of the functional basis for regeneration habitat preference of trees in an African evergreen forest

Literature: Journal Articles

Chapman, C.A., Kitajima, K., Zanne, A.E., Kaufman, L.S. & Lawes, M.J. 2008, "A 10-year evaluation of the functional basis for regeneration habitat preference of trees in an African evergreen forest", Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 255, nos. 11, pp. 3790-3796.

Contact Info

Colin Chapman,


  • McGill University, McGill School of Environment, Montreal, Canada


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Species Info

  • Balanites wilsoniana
  • Chrysophyllum gorungosanum
  • Cordia millenii
  • Ficus exasperata
  • Mimusops bagshawei
  • Monodora myristica
  • Pseudospondias microcarpa
  • Symphonia globulifera
  • Tabernaemontana sp.
  • Uvariopsis congensis
  • Warbugia stuhlmanni


  • This study reports on the growth and survival of experimentally planted seedlings in the understory over a 10-year period along with other selected functional traits for tree species in a moist evergreen forest at Kibale National Park in western Uganda.
  • Tree seedlings were transplanted at a standardized height of 11 cm into the shaded understory and quantified growth and survival for 10-years. Using the community-wide stem distribution data, they categorized 33 species including the focal 11 species to understory vs. gap/edge guilds. Then determined differences between the two guilds in seedling survival, growth, as well as seed size, adult height, and a series of leaf traits, including toughness and chemical traits (fiber, protein, phenolics, tannins, alkaloids, saponins).
  • The two light guilds based on stem distribution bias to understory gap/edge differed only in three key functional traits. According to the authors, what was surprising was that understory-survival of post-establishment seedlings during 10 years showed no obvious relationship with light guilds in shade. However, there was a tendency for gap/edge species to grow faster than understory species in shaded understory.
  • In addition, 33 species showed no difference in relation to light guilds to leaf chemical traits. Except for gap/edge species that had smaller seeds, shorter adults and less tough leaves compared to understory species. However, these traits do not contribute to survivorship or growth of seedlings transplanted to the understory.
  • In conclusion, post-establishment seedlings of understory and gap/edge guilds in Kibale showed only weak difference in height growth, but not in survival under shade over 10 years. The equally high survival of post-establishment seedlings of species in understory and gap/edge guilds may indicate that their difference in stem distributions along light gradients may be created at an earlier regeneration stage.

Geographical Region

  • East Africa
  • Country

  • Uganda
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