Rarity and abundance in a diverse African forest
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- Kenfack, D., Thomas, D.W., Chuyong, G. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2007) 16: 2045. doi:10.1007/s10531-006-9065-2
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We censused all trees ≥1 cm dbh in 50 ha of forest in Korup National Park, southwest Cameroon, in the central African coastal forest known for high diversity and endemism. The plot included 329,519 individuals and 493 species, but 128 of those taxa remain partially identified. Abundance varied over four orders of magnitude, from 1 individual per 50 ha (34 species) to Phyllobotryon spathulatum, with 26,741 trees; basal area varied over six orders of magnitude. Abundance patterns, both the percentage of rare species and the dominance of abundant species were similar to those from 50-ha plots censused the same way in Asia and Latin America. Rare species in the Korup plot were much less likely to be identified than common species: 42% of taxa with <10 individuals in the plot were identified to species, compared to 95% of the abundant taxa. Geographic ranges for all identified species were gleaned from the literature and online flora. Thirteen of the plot species are known only from Korup National Park (all discovered during the plot census), and 39 are restricted to the Nigeria–Cameroon coastal zone. Contrary to expectation, species with narrow geographic ranges were more abundant in the plot than average. The small number of narrow endemics (11% of the species), many locally abundant, mitigates short-term extinction risk, either from demographic stochasticity or habitat loss.