, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 169-175
Date: 10 Dec 2009

Is it necessary to change the number of samples for different forest types when evaluating plant species richness? A case study in a forested landscape in central Japan

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We demonstrate a method for evaluating the appropriate number of samples required to estimate plant species richness in different forest types within a forested landscape. In each of 36 plots (0.1 ha each) from 5 forest types (deciduous broad-leaved secondary forest and 4 categories of coniferous plantation classified according to stand age) in central Japan, 40 quadrats of 1 × 1 m were set in a regular pattern; the total number of quadrats in each forest type ranged from 200 to 400. In each plot, the number of observed species in 40 quadrats ranged from 60 to 80% of the number of species estimated by the rarefaction method for each forest type. Sampling 30 quadrats detected approximately 90% of the observed species in each plot that were detected using 40 quadrats. In specific functional groups (i.e., tall trees and weed species), the ratios of both tall trees and weed species to all species were at equilibrium for 30 or more quadrats. For fewer than 30 quadrats these ratios were highly variable. No significant differences were found among forest types in the ratio of the observed number of species in each plot to the estimated number of species calculated using the rarefaction method, and in sampling efficiency estimated by use of non-parametric estimators. We concluded that the number of samples does not need to be changed according to forest type or plantation stand age in the studied landscape, and that the method used to evaluate the number of samples could be useful.