The effect of land-use on the local distribution of palm species in an Andean rain forest fragment in northwestern Ecuador
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- Svenning, JC. Biodiversity and Conservation (1998) 7: 1529. doi:10.1023/A:1008831600795
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The northern Andes is extremely rich in plant species, but this diversity is threatened by extensive deforestation. This study reports on how five palm species respond to human disturbance in an area of montane forest in Ecuador. The abundance of each species was determined in 250 40 × 30m plots, established in disturbed and undisturbed forest within an area of 3 × 3km and altitudes spanning 1248–1938m. Aiphanes erinacea (H. Karst.) H. Wendl. and to a lesser degree Geonoma undata Klotzsch were negatively affected by even moderate human disturbance, while Chamaedorea linearis (Ruiz & Pav.) Mart. and C. pinnatifrons (Jacq.) Oerst. benefitted from such disturbance and Prestoea acuminata (Willd.) H.E. Moore was unaffected given time enough to replenish its population after disturbance. At the scale of the plots, species richness was maximized in undisturbed forest. Aiphanes erinacea is endemic to northern Ecuador and southern Colombia and must be considered threatened by the extensive deforestation here. If the behaviour of these palms is representative of Andean rain forest plans in general, the negative effect of moderate anthropogenic disturbance on plant biodiversity at scales of ≥1km2 might be negligible. Thus, biologically sustainable logging could be possible.