Spent yesterday following my herbicide-free regeneration boundary slashing and clipping encroaching vines. Incredibly fast growing, a vine will easily smother emerging rain forest seedlings in lantana mulched areas,as well as being able to successfully pull down grown trees. Below, is a photo of a huge vine that lived happily behind the gardens. Reaching into the canopy, its dense leaf growth soon began to over whelm the trees it covered. In a recent essay I read, by William Laurance, he quotes Oliver Phillips from the University of Leeds who says that remaining tropical forests around the world are becoming more dynamic, with trees regenerating and dying more rapidly-conditions that strongly favor vines. Suggestion there is that global warming is intensifying wind-storms which increases tree fall.
But Laurance suggests a more subtle reason, rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide which fuels photo-synthesis, and the more there is, the faster plants grow. Several studies have shown that suggest that vines, with very high photosynthetic rates, an abundance of energy-producing leaves with little costly supportive tissue, are primed to take advantage of rising CO2. I have witnessed the fast growth occuring over the last 15 years. With-in 5 years of white and red cedar being planted, all the under-story plants, usually European introduced, collapse and die due to lack of light.
Over the years here in my herbicide-free regeneration work I have encountered many different vines, a water vine keeps my black bamboo in check, along with many smaller birds finding a dense safe haven for their nests. But as Ainhoa Magrach, a post doctoral graduate from James Cook University in Cairns, has found that plants that live on trees, such as some ferns, tend to be excluded in regions where vines are dense. These ferns are little islands of biodiversity, sustaining many animals in the rainforest canopy.
Thank-you William Laurance.