Human activities may determine the demography and the conservation of non-timber forest products (NTFP) in the tropics. The response of plant populations to anthropogenic factors can be assessed on plant demography at landscape level and used for decision-making in conservation and management strategies. We evaluated the influence of anthropogenic and ecological variables on the demography of the tree Caryocar brasiliense, the most harvested fruit species of the Brazilian Cerrado. For this, we assessed how size class distribution and density of plant life-stages of 34 populations were associated with land use and management over a large geographical area. Our results indicate that land use and management affects Caryocar demography. Most population size class distributions significantly fitted to reverse J-shaped curve, indicating good recruitment, and low fit populations were generally subjected to intense cattle ranching. Cattle ranching was also negatively associated with seedling and sapling densities and vegetation thinning with seedling, juvenile and adult densities. Current fruit harvesting levels are not affecting recruitment at the landscape level. We conclude that the negative effect of cattle and vegetation thinning can be mitigated by increasing the rotation time between areas and intervals between thinning events and that current fruit harvesting pressure on Caryocar populations is sustainable across landscape. The social and economic importance of this species is an ecological asset that can be used for the development of public policies promoting multiple uses of habitat remnants to ensure that the strategy of conservation under use is carried out.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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