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Stevens, Martin [1], Ross, Nanci [2].

Mesoamerican tree species composition legacy suggests alternative stable states.

Ecological legacies of the ancient Maya are myriad, and among these are the persistent remnants of former forest gardens. These garden forests are found in areas of once high density settlements, and they are characterized by relatively high abundances of once-culturally important woody species. We extended previous research in Belize and Guatemala to assess whether the potential fruiting phenologies of these forest communities differ from those of the surrounding forest matrix. We combined tree size census data from 63 20m x 20m plots with publicly available phenology data on 108 woody species to calculate aggregate community-level fruiting potential (CFP) in each month in each plot. Bayesian hierarchical models estimated several seasonal patterns of aggregate and species-level phenologies in areas of ancient Maya settlements and forest matrix.
We found strong evidence that CFP differed between garden forests vs. the surrounding forest matrix. Using all species, we found that CFP was higher in garden forest sites in January, September, and November (13%, 4%, 8%) but lower in May (-10%), due largely to the once-culturally important garden species and these differences were even greater when assessing only garden species. We also found that total CFP of garden species was greater and had 15% less month-to-month variability in garden forests than in the surrounding forest matrix. The greater and less variable fruiting potential of the garden species in these garden forests have implications for our understanding of Maya culture, for non-human plant-frugivore interactions, and for the mechanisms underlying the maintenance of the garden forest remnants over the past 1000 years.

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1 - 700 E High St, 167G PSN, Oxford, OH, 45056, United States
2 - Drake University, Biology Dept., 2507 University, Des Moines, IA, 50311, United States

alternative stable states.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO4, Ecology: Community Assemblages, Succession and Marcescence
Location: /
Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
Time: 11:45 AM(EDT)
Number: ECO4008
Abstract ID:911
Candidate for Awards:None

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