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Panaddas Article

Panaddas Article

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Published by Joe May

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Published by: Joe May on Feb 15, 2013
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Bamboos: great benefits for people but a possible threat to plant communities?
Dr. Panadda LarpkernCollege of Bodhivijjalaya, Srinakharinwirot University 
Bamboos are perennial grasses in the family Poaceae, sub-family Bambusoideae. They are thefastest growing plants in the world and well known as “pioneer species”. There areapproximately 87 genera and about 1,500 species of bamboo worldwide (Zhou et al. 2005).Bamboos are widely distributed in tropical, subtropical and temperate forest ecosystems,especially found in Asia and South America (Söderström and Calderon 1979; Li and Kobayashi2004; Zhou et al. 2005). Bamboos spread by underground rhizomes, and culms (stalks) arisefrom the rhizomes to form the aerial parts. The culms sprout branches from nodes, and leavesgrow from branches. The flowering habits of bamboo are not well understood. Some bamboosflower annually or within short intervals, while some flower simultaneously after long intervalsof several decades (Söderström and Calderon 1979). Rhizomes are an important structure usedin bamboo taxonomy. There are two basic types of bamboos, according to the rhizome systems:monopodial (running); and sympodial (clumping) types. Tropical bamboos are mostly of theclumping type, while temperate bamboos are the running type (Söderström and Calderon1979).Bamboos are very important for the culture and economy in Asia. In Thailand, there are13 genera and 60 species of bamboos recorded (Pattanavibool 2000). They are used for basicliving, including food, household construction, basket making, musical instruments, medicine,firewood and furniture. Although, bamboos have great benefits for people, they may threatenother plant species in forest communities.Bamboos are important components of many forest types in Asia (Bystriakova et al.2003; Zhou et al. 2005), and they have been increasing in their cover in disturbed forests(Garner et al 2000; Forest Restoration Research Unit 2006). Disturbances, both natural andanthropogenic, have been related to a shift in bamboo dominance (Söderström and Calderon1979; Griscom and Ashton 2003). Recently, Franklin et al. (2010) suggested that bamboos maynot be facilitated by disturbances, but instead they can persist and be resilient to disturbances
like other clonal plants. Although, mechanisms in which bamboos become dominant need to beinvestigated, the influence of bamboos on tree seedlings has been emphasized (Marod et al.1999; Tabarelli and Mantovani 2000; Griscom and Ashton 2003; Guilherme et al. 2004). Asbamboos become dominant in the intermediate layer of the forests, they may modify micro-environmental conditions through their deep shade and litter. George and Bazzaz (1999)suggested in their work that the understory stratum (i.e. fern) is an important ecological filter inforests through its modification of micro-environmental variables, temperature, soil moisture,and also through its litter distribution.The effects of bamboos (
Bambusa tulda
Cephalostachyum pergracile
) and their litter on theoverall woody seedling abundance, species richness anddiversity in a mixed deciduous forest in northeasternThailand were examined (Larpkern et al. 2011). Theresults from the experiment clearly showed that bamboos suppress regeneration of woody seedlingsthrough their deep shade and litter on the forest floor.Seedling abundance and species richness were reducedby bamboo canopies, and removal of bamboo litterincreased seedling abundance and species diversity.Increased human disturbance, causing a shift indominance structure of mixed deciduous forests frommixed tree species to bamboo dominance, may result ina concomitant reduction in their overall woody species abundance, richness and diversity. Thus,management of bamboos by controlling their distribution in areas of high bamboo density canbe an important forest restoration method. Therefore, bamboos should be incorporated inmanagement strategies when the aim is to maintain woody species richness and diversity inthese forest ecosystems. If bamboos cover the forest floor at high densities, it may be necessaryto actively control these species for successful tree establishment.

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