, Volume 5, Issue 7, pp 825-840

Diversity, size composition and spatial aggregation among trees on a 1-ha rain forest plot at La Réunion

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Because lowland rain forests of oceanic islands have almost always been destroyed soon after human colonization, there exist few quantitative descriptions of tree species composition and diversity in such forests. For this reason, the diversity and structure of a lowland tropical rain forest were studied on a 1-ha permanent plot on the oceanic island of La Réunion. A total of 1270 individuals of gbh ≥25 cm (girth at breast height), including at least 43 species, were mapped, measured and identified. Several species were represented only by large individuals. Ten species among the 23 common enough to test are randomly distributed over the hectare, while 13 show aggregated spatial distributions. The tree species diversity, size structure and spatial distribution observed in this island plot are discussed in light of patterns occurring in continental lowland tropical rain forests. In the study area, the high density of trees and the tendency of conspecific individuals to be clumped may be linked to several factors: hurricane disturbance, lack of seed dispersers and patchy seed rain.