Countryside biogeography of neotropical herbaceous and shrubby plants

Mayfield, M. M. and Daily, G. C. (2005) Countryside biogeography of neotropical herbaceous and shrubby plants. Ecological Applications, 15 2: 423-439. doi:10.1890/03-5369

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Author Mayfield, M. M.
Daily, G. C.
Title Countryside biogeography of neotropical herbaceous and shrubby plants
Journal name Ecological Applications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1051-0761
Publication date 2005
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/03-5369
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 15
Issue 2
Start page 423
End page 439
Total pages 17
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Language eng
Abstract As human impacts on the environment intensify, the future of plant and animal biodiversity will depend increasingly on the floras surviving in human-dominated "countryside" habitats. To begin to characterize these floras for the Neotropics, we investigated the richness and composition of herbaceous and shrubby plant communities in six forested and deforested habitats, in three replicated study areas (7.5-km in diameter), of southern Costa Rica. We chose habitat types that are common throughout the tropics, to begin building a general understanding of both the habitats of origin and the diversity of countryside floras. Focal forest habitats were understory, 1- to 2-year-old tree-fall gaps, and riverbanks, all in primary forest. Focal deforested habitats were ungrazed road verges, grazed pasture, and riverbanks in grazed pasture. Non-riverbank habitats were sampled both near and far from. forest edge. In total, we sampled 772 species from 79 families, similar to 40% of the non-tree plant diversity of the region. Only 6% of identified species are known to be exotic. In each study area, understory and pasture plots were consistently species poor, while tree-fall gaps and road verges near forest were consistently the most species-rich habitats. In each study area, we found the same proportion of species restricted to forested habitats (similar to 45%) and deforested habitats (similar to 37%), and the same proportion of "countryside-habitat generalists" ( similar to 18%) occurring in both forested and deforested habitats. However, different forested habitats supported different proportions of country side-habitat generalists in each study area, although understory plots consistently 'supported the fewest generalists. Among forested habitats, riverbanks were the most similar floristically to deforested habitats. Pasture riverbanks and road verges near forest supported plant communities most similar to those in forested habitats. The uniqueness and richness of each habitat suggests that countrysides with diverse land uses can support many native herbaceous and shrubby plant species. As it becomes increasingly difficult to protect large tracts of undisturbed tropical forest, we suggest that conservation goals expand to encompass maintenance of heterogeneity in countryside landscapes.
Keyword Ecology
biodiversity conservation
Costa Rica
habitat fragmentation
human-dominated landscapes
native herbaceous plants
native shrubs
Neotropical countryside
tropical moist forest
tropical plant biodiversity
Rain-forest Fragments
Species Richness
Eastern Amazonia
Agricultural Landscapes
Habitat Fragmentation
Botanical Diversity
Abandoned Pastures
Understory Herbs
Southern Quebec
Tree Diversity
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Created: Fri, 28 Mar 2008, 15:28:15 EST