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Forms of rarity of tree species in the southern Brazilian Atlantic rainforest

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Abstract

The assessment of species rarity considers local abundance (scarce or abundant population), habitat affinity (stenoecious or euryecious species), and geographic distribution (stenotopic or eurytopic species). When analyzed together these variables classify species into eight categories, from common species to those having small populations, unique habitats, and restricted geographic distribution (form 7), as proposed by Rabinowitz in 1981. Based on these categories, it is possible to calculate the frequency of the different forms of rarity of the species present in a given site. The Brazilian Atlantic rainforest is considered a hotspot of the world biodiversity harboring many endemic species, which have restricted geographic distribution. Our objective was to identify the forms of rarity of tree species and their proportions in the southern portion of the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest using Rabinowitz’s forms of rarity. All the seven forms of rarity are present in the 846 tree species we analyzed: 46% eurytopic and 54% stenotopic, 73% euryecious and 27% stenoecious, 76% locally abundant and 24% locally scarce species. Eurytopic, euryecious locally abundant species accounted for 41.1%, whereas 58.9% were somehow rare: 4.5% eurytopic, euryecious locally scarce, 0.2% eurytopic, stenoecious locally abundant, 0.1% eurytopic, stenoecious locally scarce, 19.5% stenotopic, euryecious locally abundant, 8.0% stenotopic, euryecious locally scarce, 15.6% stenotopic, stenoecious locally abundant, and 11.0% stenotopic, stenoecious locally scarce. Considering that the most restrictive forms of rarity precedes extinction, the application of Rabinowitz’s system demonstrated that most tree species of the southern Brazilian Atlantic rainforest are threatened due to their restricted geographic distribution, restriction to a single habitat, reduced local abundance, or even to a combination of these variables.

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Correspondence to Fernando Roberto Martins.

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Caiafa, A.N., Martins, F.R. Forms of rarity of tree species in the southern Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. Biodivers Conserv 19, 2597–2618 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-010-9861-6

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