, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 215-240

Can botanical collections assist in a National Protected Area Strategy in Guyana?

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With botanical collections of five key tree taxa an assessment is made of the usefulness of herbarium collections in a National Protected Areas Strategy in Guyana. Even though botanical collections are often concentrated in a few areas, causing a bias in diversity estimates, the data are useful for the estimation of species richness in large areas (1/10 of the country) and provide information on species distributions. Because of the taxonomic correctness of the names of the specimens, data on endemics is much more reliable than e.g. data in forest inventories. Based on the collections of Licania, Eschweilera, Lecythis, Swartzia, Lauraceae, and Sapotaceae a previous division in seven to eight forest regions is supported. There are significant differences in total species richness, or γ-diversity, among the regions, with the Pakaraima Highlands having the highest γ-diversity. Endemics are found in two concentrations, one in the Pakaraima Highlands and a very important one in the White Sands Formation in Central Guyana. These endemics are habitat specialists of the poor sandy soils of that area and are under serious threat due to forest exploitation and habitat degradation.