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The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, impacts forest composition and soil characteristics at Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific

Hillary S. Young, Stanford University
Ted K. Raab, Stanford University
Douglas J. McCauley, Stanford University
Amy A. Briggs, Stanford University
Rodolfo Dirzo, Stanford University

Abstract

Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm, has a pantropical distribution and reaches near monodominance in many atolls, low lying islands and coastal regions. This paper examines the ecological correlation between C. nucifera abundance and changes in forest structure, floristic diversity and forest soil characteristics. Cumulatively, these data show that C. nucifera has important impacts on floristic, structural and soil characteristics of forests where it becomes dominant. Given the high proportion of tropical coastal areas in which C. nucifera is now naturalized and abundant, this likely has important implications for coastal forest diversity and structure.

Suggested Citation

Hillary S. Young, Ted K. Raab, Douglas J. McCauley, Amy A. Briggs, and Rodolfo Dirzo. "The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, impacts forest composition and soil characteristics at Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific" Journal of Vegetation Science 21 (2010): 1058-1068.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ted_k_raab/3