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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 2627–2648 | Cite as

Distribution patterns of flora and fauna in southern Chilean Coastal rain forests: Integrating Natural History and GIS

  • Cecilia Smith-Ramírez
  • Iván Díaz
  • Patricio Pliscoff
  • Claudio Valdovinos
  • Marco A. Méndez
  • Juan Larraín
  • Horacio Samaniego
Original Paper

Abstract

Knowledge of species richness centers is necessary for the design of conservation areas. In this study, we present a GIS analysis of two years of field data on animal and plant diversity distributions in evergreen, coastal rain forests of southern Chile (39°30′–41°25′ S). Despite their high endemism, these forests have remained largely unprotected. Field records were complemented with data from museum collections and scientific literature. We used selected environmental variables (evapotranspiration, altitude) and, in some cases, forest types as predictors of species distributions. Our study focused on the distribution of forest bryophytes, vascular plants, soil invertebrates, amphibians and birds. We generated distributional maps for each taxa based on their field records in the study area, complemented by natural history information, except in the case of bryophytes and soil invertebrates. In general, species richness was lower at 600 m elevation or above for all the taxa studied. Species richness tends to increase in the northern sector of the study area. We observed a greater richness of vascular plants near rivers and streams, and noted important floristic differences between west and east-facing slopes of the Coastal Range, with more species in the oriental side. Because species in high altitude forests are not a subset of those found at lower elevations, we propose that conservation strategies should prioritize the protection of the entire altitudinal gradient of the southern Coastal Range, especially in the more diverse oriental and northern sectors.

Keywords

Amphibian distributions Arthropod distributions Bird distributions Bryophyte distributions Hotspots Vascular plant distribution 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by WWF grants FC11 and FC49, National Science Conservation, Proyecto Nücleo Milenio No. P99-103FICM, Fondecyt-Fondap 1501-0001 (to CASEB), BBVA Foundation and Biocores project funded by INCO-DC program IV under contract ICA 4-CT-2001-10095. We are grateful to Ek del Val, Juan Armesto and Pablo Necochea for assistance with the English version.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Smith-Ramírez
    • 1
  • Iván Díaz
    • 2
  • Patricio Pliscoff
    • 3
  • Claudio Valdovinos
    • 4
  • Marco A. Méndez
    • 5
  • Juan Larraín
    • 7
  • Horacio Samaniego
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity (CASEB)P. Universidad Católica and Fundación Senda Darwin (FSD)ValdiviaChile
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of Florida and FSDGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.FSDProvidenciaChile
  4. 4.Center of Environmental Sciences (EULA-Chile), University of ConcepcionConcepcionChile
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Bioinformática y Expresión Génica (INTA-Universidad de Chile)SantiagoChile
  6. 6.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  7. 7.FSDDepartamento de BotánicaUniversidad de ConcepcionConcepcion Chile

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