Population Structure and Environmental Effects of a Secondary Forest in the Central Andean Mountains of Eastern Antioquia, Colombia: Emphasis on the Endangered Species Godoya antioquensis
Several Andean forests in the Guatapé municipality and in the eastern Antioquia (Colombia) do not have studies related to population structures and environmental effects. The “San Benito” Forest has previously shown presence of several endangered species, including Godoya antioquensis, an endemic tree to the Antioquia region. The aim of the study is to describe population structures and environmental characteristics of this forest and the occurrence of this species. As methods, species type, Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) and Height (H) (in arboreal, bush and herbaceous layers), Temperature (T) and Relative Humidity (RH) were sampled. The Importance Value Index (IVI), Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Multiple Comparison Tests, multivariate statistics, Relative abundance, Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index (H) and geostatistics were performed and analyzed. As a result, Tibouchina lepidota, Myrcia popayanensis and Scheffleraela chystocephala exhibited the highest IVI and significant relative abundance in several plots, being considered pioneer plants, followed by Cyathea sp., Croton magdalenensis and Godoya antioquensis with lower IVI. The Tukey Honest Significant difference (HSD) test and diameter classes modeling showed significant variation between the fifteen plots. According to the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA), the variables indicated homogeneous distribution patterns and a correlation between abundance, temperature and humidity in almost all plots, with the plots 8, 14 and 15 showing high diversity and relative abundance of species. Particularly, the plot 15 showed the highest “H” diversity value, the highest relative humidity and temperature and significant presence of G. antioquensis plants when comparing to other plots. Concluding: secondary succession studies are essential to understand population dynamics and environmental effects, to propose ecological restoration and to aid endangered species.