THE INFLUENCE OF SECONDARY SUCCESSION ON SPECIES DIVERSITY:
A CASE STUDY OF MAU FOREST, KENYA
Keywords:Disturbances, canopy openings, regeneration, colonizers, climax forest
Mau forest is one of the few remaining indigenous forests in East Africa. It holds about 61 species of trees of which four genera are endemic. Over the past 30 years, Mau Forest has undergone significant land use changes resulting into creation of three types of forests namely; severely disturbed, relatively disturbed and undisturbed. This has compromised biodiversity within the forest as well as the ability of the forest to absorb disturbances. Evictions from the forest have led to creation of large canopy openings from whence secondary succession through regeneration is evident from grasses to ferns, wild berries to pioneer species which are the dominant currently. Presently, Mau Forest canopy is dominated by colonizers and is slowly graduating into climax forest if disturbances are controlled. Successions in forests are triggered by disturbances which are caused by biotic and abiotic forces creating canopy openings. Secondary succession is key in forest ecology and is applicable in ecological restoration, biodiversity conservation, and management of vegetation. The aim of this review is thus focused on determining the process of secondary succession from the degraded sites in Mau Forest. This begins by looking at the trend in vegetation structure as well as the plant species diversity from the cutline moving towards the interior of the forest. This gives an overview of the influence of secondary succession on species diversity within the forest. The information from this review will hence help in prescribing conservation measures to managers and decision makers on the diversity of species so as to preserve the endangered species for ecological restoration.
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