Plant and Soil

, Volume 403, Issue 1–2, pp 129–152 | Cite as

Ecology and evolution of plant diversity in the endangered campo rupestre: a neglected conservation priority

  • Fernando A. O. SilveiraEmail author
  • Daniel Negreiros
  • Newton P. U. Barbosa
  • Elise Buisson
  • Flávio F. Carmo
  • Daniel W. Carstensen
  • Abel A. Conceição
  • Tatiana G. Cornelissen
  • Lívia Echternacht
  • G. Wilson Fernandes
  • Queila S. Garcia
  • Tadeu J. Guerra
  • Claudia M. Jacobi
  • José P. Lemos-Filho
  • Soizig Le Stradic
  • Leonor Patrícia C. Morellato
  • Frederico S. Neves
  • Rafael S. Oliveira
  • Carlos E. Schaefer
  • Pedro L. Viana
  • Hans Lambers
Marschner Review



Botanists, ecologists and evolutionary biologists are familiar with the astonishing species richness and endemism of the fynbos of the Cape Floristic Region and the ancient and unique flora of the kwongkan of south-western Australia. These regions represent old climatically-buffered infertile landscapes (OCBILs) that are the basis of a general hypothesis to explain their richness and endemism. However, few ecologists are familiar with the campo rupestre of central and eastern Brazil, an extremely old mountaintop ecosystem that is both a museum of ancient lineages and a cradle of continuing diversification of endemic lineages.


Diversification of some lineages of campo rupestre pre-dates diversification of lowland cerrado, suggesting it may be the most ancient open vegetation in eastern South America. This vegetation comprises more than 5000 plant species, nearly 15 % of Brazil’s plant diversity, in an area corresponding to 0.78 % of its surface. Reviewing empirical data, we scrutinise five predictions of the OCBIL theory, and show that campo rupestre is fully comparable to and remarkably convergent with both fynbos and kwongkan, and fulfills the criteria for a classic OCBIL.


The increasing threats to campo rupestre are compromising ecosystem services and we argue for the implementation of more effective conservation and restoration strategies.


Biodiversity hotspot Canga Endemism Functional ecology Nutrient-impoverished soils OCBIL theory Plant biogeography 



We thank Peter Reich, Ian Wright and Simon Pierce for original data on leaf functional traits and Marcos Callisto for providing coordinates. The comments of two reviewers and RC Colwell improved early versions of the manuscript. This research was funded by Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento (APQ-03199-13, 561883/2010-6, 311301/2011-8, 482720/2012), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (APQ-04105-10, APQ-02231-12), Sao Paulo Research Foundation (2013/50155-0, 2014/01594-4), the Ministère Français des affaires étrangères et européennes (EGIDE 2009/657176K) and French Embassy / UNESP Rio Claro Chairs 2012 and 2014. We thank CAPES for granting a PVE / Ciência sem fronteiras scholarship (88881.068071/2014-01) to HL and RSO. FAOS, AAC, LPCM, JPLF, CMJ, FSN, GWF, CES, RSO, and QSG received research productivity scholarships from CNPq.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2637_MOESM1_ESM.doc (100 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando A. O. Silveira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Negreiros
    • 2
  • Newton P. U. Barbosa
    • 2
  • Elise Buisson
    • 3
  • Flávio F. Carmo
    • 4
  • Daniel W. Carstensen
    • 5
  • Abel A. Conceição
    • 6
  • Tatiana G. Cornelissen
    • 7
  • Lívia Echternacht
    • 8
  • G. Wilson Fernandes
    • 2
    • 9
  • Queila S. Garcia
    • 1
  • Tadeu J. Guerra
    • 1
  • Claudia M. Jacobi
    • 2
  • José P. Lemos-Filho
    • 1
  • Soizig Le Stradic
    • 2
    • 3
    • 10
  • Leonor Patrícia C. Morellato
    • 5
  • Frederico S. Neves
    • 2
  • Rafael S. Oliveira
    • 11
    • 14
  • Carlos E. Schaefer
    • 12
  • Pedro L. Viana
    • 13
  • Hans Lambers
    • 14
  1. 1.Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia GeralUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Université d’Avignon et desPays de Vaucluse, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie – UMR CNRS IRD Aix-Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.Instituto PrístinoBelo HorizonteBrazil
  5. 5.Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Estadual Paulista, UNESPAraraquaraBrazil
  6. 6.Departamento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Estadual de Feira de SantanaFeira de SantanaBrazil
  7. 7.Departamento de Ciências NaturaisUniversidade Federal de São João Del-ReiSão João del ReiBrazil
  8. 8.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de UberlândiaUberlândiaBrazil
  9. 9.Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  10. 10.Gembloux Agro-Bio TechUniversité de LiègeLiègeBelgium
  11. 11.Departamento de Biologia VegetalUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinasBrazil
  12. 12.Departamento de SolosUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  13. 13.Coordenação de Botânica, Museu Emílio GoeldiBelémBrazil
  14. 14.School of Plant BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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