A half century of permanent plot observation in Budongo Forest, Uganda: histories, highlights and hypotheses

A half century of permanent plot observation in Budongo Forest, Uganda: histories, highlights and hypotheses

W.J. Eggeling established several 1.86 ha permanent sample plots (PSPs) in Budongo
Forest, Uganda, during the 1930s and 1940s. Using data from these plots he
described Budongo’s vegetation within a comprehensive ‘successional’ framework.
Some of these plots have been re-measured on several occasions since their
establishment. Five plots were fully reassessed in 1992-1993 (c. 9 ha total including c.
5,000 stems ³ 10 cm dbh). This paper outlines the history of the unique Budongo
evaluations and highlights the significance and opportunities available from long term
PSP studies. Eggeling’s (1947a) framework remains a classic example of succession in which species numbers decline in later stages. Disturbance models for local diversity
maintenance have been implied and Connell (1978) chose to use Eggeling’s account of
Budongo as the main illustration of his intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Community change at Budongo can now be directly evaluated using the long term PSP
data. Those plots which have been disturbed do indeed show an increase in species
numbers. More surprisingly however the undisturbed late successional forest has not
shown the expected decrease in species richness. The implications of the various
observations are examined and the theoretical context is considered. It is suggested
that the intermediate disturbance model is limited, and that a more comprehensive
theory would include the many influences that effect regeneration within a changing
environment. Any influences or processes which allows the successful regeneration of
species within communities where they are not already present has the ability to
increase local species richness. In long lived tree communities such species
augmentation may be brought about by many types of environmental changes, both
sudden (as in disturbance) and also by gradual and progressive influences.

Authors: Sheil, D.

Topic: Uganda,forests

Series: Man and the Biosphere Series no. v.20

Publisher: MAB UNESCO, Paris, France

Publication Year: 1998

ISBN: 1-85070-963-7

Source: Dallmeier, F. and Comiskey, J. A. Forest biodiversity research, monitoring and modeling: conceptual background and old world case studies.. 399-428

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