Investigating which species of tree will result in the highest gain of biodiversity

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Group 3: Proposal for Restoration Trail

Introduction

This field trial is located in the surroundings of the Panama Canal. The area is famous worldwide for its waterway connecting of the Pacific with the Caribbean coast. Locally the area is important as a watershed area, providing clean drinking water for the people of both Panama City and Colon, as well as the growing importance for the preservation of the biodiversity in the Panama region. In order to acquire multiple sources of income, the possibility of payment trough environmental services such as carbon sequestration is also involved. The objectives of this study are chosen according to these topics: increase provision of water/restore hydrology, restore biodiversity and increase carbon sequestration. The study will consist of a field inventory including the setup of a large experimental plantation.

Research questions

To reach the objectives research needs to be done. We want to know which tree species will result in the highest gain of biodiversity. Which species will have the best effect on increasing the provision of water. Some tree species have a higher carbon sequestration capacity than others so which species are most suitable to use in this project. Finding the most suitable species is one thing, but in which proportions should they be applied?

First we need to know if reforestation really has a positive effect on water availability in the dry season. Another thing we should be able to derive from the study is how long it would take to restore the biodiversity.

Tree species selected

We took the ten best performing species for each variable (diameter, height and survival) and compared them. There were four species that performed equally good in all parameters: Gliricidia sepium, Tectona grandis, Spondias mombin and Guazuma ulmifolia. These species have a good diameter and also height growth which means that they have a high wood density. Trees with a high wood density regularly have a very high carbon sequestration potential which is needed in this case (Van Breugel et al. ,2011).

Table 1 : selection of tree species

Tree species

Diameter

Survival

Height

Gliricidia sepium

X

X

x

Tectona grandis

X

X

x

Spondias mombin

X

X

x

Guazuma ulmifolia

X

X

x

Hura crepitans

x

X

Pachira quinata

x

X

Acacia mangium

x

x

Ochroma pyramidale

x

x

Muntingia calabura

x

x

Erythrina fusca

x

Pseudosamanea guachapele

X

x

Diphysa americana

X

Samanea saman

x

Dalbergia retusa

x

Tabebuia rosea

x

Colubrina glandulosa

x

Methods

Different steps can be distinguished when restoring nature. The current use of the land surrounding the Panama Canal is agriculture and shrubland. The least expensive restoration method to restore the area to forest is natural regeneration. This way however it can take up to 40 years before the restored forest has reached a mature state again. However since the trial only lasts 10 years it may be necessary to make some extra efforts to restore the forest in that time span. The planting of seedlings and saplings will fasten the process of restoration. This is reforestation with native trees from the surrounding area (Chazdon, 2008).

Experimental setup

The experimental setup is based on the species density, the tree density and plot size. To find out which species density yields the highest carbonsequestration, biodiversity, and their effect on the water balance, a division is made. In table 1 the tree density is specified. Species density affects the carbon sequestration because processes like competition depend on which trees are dominating the species composition. This influences the biomass production and thus the carbon uptake by those trees. The selected trees can positively influence the biodiversity by providing the animals food and shelter and facilitating other plant species by altering the microclimate and the soil chemistry, these processes can be both positively as negatively. In the dry season some of the tree species drop their leaves partially, this influences the transpiration and interception of water, this has an effect on the amount of water becoming available for the groundwater completion, and thus indirectly to the Panama canal system. The tree density is based on other planting schemes and it is chosen to use a 2m tree distance planted in a triangle grid. This gives natural regeneration a chance too. The plot area is 1 ha, since this is a regular used plot size.

Table 2: Tree density in % per plot

Tree species density

Plot1

Plot 2

Plot 3

Plot 4

Plot 5

Pseudosamaneaguachapele

25

40

20

20

20

Diphysaamericana

25

20

40

20

20

Samaneasaman

25

20

20

40

20

Dalbergiaretusa

25

20

20

20

40

Measurement

We want to measure biodiversity, tree density, waterlevel of the basins and lakes and carbon stock. Biodiversity is measured by counting animals and plants present in the area. Counting of animals can be done by walking through the forest, but also by using cameras. Another possibility could be to scout local markets. Locals often eat whatever is found in the forest, this will translate to a broader variety of animals sold on those markets. Plants can be counted by randomly choosing areas. Plants will be measured in a specific way. First we count this in 1 square meter writing down all the species and in which height they occur. The next step is to calculate it in 2 square meter and only writing down the new species. We double the area three more times while following the same process. This is the most accurate way to measure the plant variety. This will be done every year so it is clear what the rate of increase in biodiversity is. In the current situation a shortage of water occurs during the dry season. Reforesting the area could solve the problem of water shortage during dry season. To know whether this is the case the water level of the lakes and the basins should be measured during the dry season. However reforestation also has an effect on the water level during the raining season. Therefore the water level should also be measured during the raining season. Carbon stock is measured by calculating the volume of the trees. Therefore it is necessary to know the tree density and the average tree mass.

Statistical analysis

We will use an ANOVA-test, an ANOVA-test is used when the variance between multiple groups needs to be compared, this test can be used for analysing the species diversity and biodiversity.

To find out if there is a correlation between species density and the water level in the basins and lakes, a regression test can be done, in this case the Spearman’s R-test.

Advice

We started with the objectives to increase provision of water/restore hydrology, restore biodiversity and increase carbon sequestrationin the surroundings of the Panama Canal. To reach these objectives we want to do research about whether species composition influences out objectives. We suggest to use four tree species in this research: Gliricidia sepium, Tectona grandis, Spondias mombin and Guazuma ulmifoliai because these species show the best qualities for our research. We will plant them in different mixes in 5 different plots. Measurements consist out of measuring species diversity, tree density, water level and carbon stocks. Our results will be analysed using different statistical methods.

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