Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1761–1784 | Cite as

Environmental heterogeneity and disturbance by humans control much of the tree species diversity of Atlantic montane forest fragments in SE Brazil

  • José Aldo A. PereiraEmail author
  • Ary T. Oliveira-Filho
  • José P. Lemos-Filho
Original Paper


The effects of human impact and environmental heterogeneity on the tree species diversity were assessed in 20 fragments of tropical montane seasonal forest in southeastern Brazil. Previous surveys of the tree community, soils and topography of the fragments provided the bulk of the data. The diversity parameters used were the means of species richness, Shannon diversity (H′), and Pielou evenness (J′) obtained from “bootstrap” sub-samplings of 1,000 trees. Morphometric variables obtained for the fragments included total, edge, and inner areas. Investigation forms were used to survey the history of human interventions and prepare an impacts matrix containing scores assigned to assess the extent, severity and duration of selected impacts. Scores for overall environmental impacts were obtained from the ordination scores produced by a multivariate analysis of the impacts matrix. A multivariate analysis of the standard deviations of soil variables was used to identify the variable which contributed most to soil heterogeneity. The same procedure was repeated for the variables related to topography and ground-water regime. The three species diversity parameters were related to the proportions of edges, the overall impacts scores, and the standard deviations of two selected soil and topographic variables. The species diversity in the fragments increased with increasing heterogeneity of both soil chemical properties and topographic features, and decreased with increasing proportion of forest edges. The evenness component of species diversity also increased with increasing severity of overall environmental impacts. This probably occurred because the 20 fragments did not include highly disturbed forests in the range and the intermediate disturbance effect on species diversity was therefore detected.


Disturbance Environmental heterogeneity Environmental impacts Forest fragments Man-made impacts Tree species diversity Tropical seasonal forests 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Aldo A. Pereira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ary T. Oliveira-Filho
    • 1
  • José P. Lemos-Filho
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciências FlorestaisUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de BotânicaICB, Universidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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