, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 151-166
Date: 17 Sep 2008

Distribution of pteridophyte communities along environmental gradients in Central Amazonia, Brazil

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Abstract

Extrapolation of local abundance–environment relationships to broader scales provides species distribution models used for conservation planning. We investigated the importance of environmental heterogeneity and geographic distance on pteridophyte species spatial distribution on 38 plots of 250 × 2.5 m distributed over 90 km2 in Central Amazon. Inclusion of canopy openness in our models increased the capacity of predicting community composition even under the narrow range of canopy openness found in our plots. Nevertheless, there was still a large amount of unexplained variance (55–65%). The response of the community to the light gradient was hierarchical and we did not find evidences of light partitioning. Most species were concentrated in low light plots but a few common and abundant occurred along the entire gradient. Soil properties were the major determinants of community composition. Contrary to similar studies, slope was not a good predictor of pteridophyte community composition, indicating that this relationship may be site-specific. There was no correlation between floristic distances and geographic distances. We concluded that mesoscale turnover is low, although locally environmental variation determines high turnover of species. Studies among different Amazonian physiognomies tend to find high levels of beta-diversity. However, coarse comparisons can not reveal subtle patterns that are relevant for biodiversity conservation planning. This study found some important changes on pteridophyte community within the same type of forest, mainly related to environmental heterogeneity, even in narrow ranges of environmental variation.