Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 2133–2153 | Cite as

Tree dominance and diversity in Minas Gerais, Brazil

  • Marcela de Castro Nunes Santos TerraEmail author
  • Rubens Manoel dos Santos
  • Marco Aurélio Leite Fontes
  • José Marcio de Mello
  • José Roberto Soares Scolforo
  • Lucas Rezende Gomide
  • Jamir Afonso do Prado Júnior
  • Ivan Schiavini
  • Hans ter Steege
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


Quantifying diversity is an old challenge for ecologists and is also a social demand given the increasing threats to natural areas. We sought to work on these issues by using data from 158 vegetation remnants (over 350,000 trees) in southeastern Brazil (Minas Gerais State—MG, nearly 600,000 km2). Specifically, we sought to answer the following questions. (1) How many trees and tree species currently exist in MG vegetation remnants? (2) How much of such biodiversity is present in each vegetation domain (Atlantic Forest, Cerrado and Caatinga) and vegetation type (Seasonally Dry tropical forest “semideciduous”, Seasonally Dry tropical forest “deciduous”, Rain Forest, Swamp, Cerrado and Cerradão) in MG? (3) How much has been lost in regards to tree amount and tree species? We built a 0.1-degree cell grid to estimate the number of trees via spatial regression and used Fisher’s alpha and Fisher’s log series to provide estimates on how many tree species there are and were in MG. We found the number of trees in Minas Gerais to be approximately 24.5 × 109, and the number of tree species to be between 3592 and 3743. The most abundant species distribution among the vegetation domains and vegetation types followed inversely the environmental heterogeneity of the classes. Consequently, the most abundant species in MG belonged to the Cerrado domain, where there was less environmental heterogeneity. The numbers of trees and tree species lost were estimated at 68.54 and 4.03–8.42% of the original values, respectively. We discuss that due to the consequences of human impacts that go back in the region for over a thousand years, other processes not considered in this study, such as habitat degradation by isolation, alterations of food webs, unsustainable use, and climate change, might have caused local extinctions and potentially increased the number of species lost. We believe our results may guide conservation initiatives by providing a base for future environmental laws, parks planning, and the development of more appropriate vegetation management techniques in MG. In addition, our results may inspire future quantitative ecological studies in the tropics.


Atlantic Forest Caatinga Cerrado Fisher’s log-series Neotropical vegetation Species relative abundance 



The authors would like to thank numerous people for their assistance in field work, without whom a research at this scale would not have been possible. Additionally, we thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the financial support (99999.006061/2014-01) and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center (The Netherlands) for the partnership and support.

Supplementary material

10531_2017_1349_MOESM1_ESM.xls (342 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 342 kb)
10531_2017_1349_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (951 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 950 kb)
10531_2017_1349_MOESM3_ESM.tif (65.8 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 67378 kb) Fig. 6 Minas Gerais vegetation until 2009: a 10 × 10 km grid containing data of natural vegetation in km2 and percentage for each cell. Source: ICMBio, 2013.
10531_2017_1349_MOESM4_ESM.tiff (91.3 mb)
Supplementary material 4 (TIFF 93469 kb) Fig. 7 Estimated total trees per 0.1-degree cells in MG
10531_2017_1349_MOESM5_ESM.tif (17.3 mb)
Supplementary material 5 (TIFF 17725 kb) Fig. 8 Estimated ntrees/ha against observed ntrees/ha and estimated relative abundance against observed ntrees/ha for the 158 sites in Minas Gerais
10531_2017_1349_MOESM6_ESM.tif (22.7 mb)
Supplementary material 6 (TIFF 23268 kb) Fig. 9 Species-individuals curve for the estimated original number of trees and tree species (black), and the same curve for the estimated current number of trees and tree species in Minas Gerais


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcela de Castro Nunes Santos Terra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rubens Manoel dos Santos
    • 1
  • Marco Aurélio Leite Fontes
    • 1
  • José Marcio de Mello
    • 1
  • José Roberto Soares Scolforo
    • 1
  • Lucas Rezende Gomide
    • 1
  • Jamir Afonso do Prado Júnior
    • 2
  • Ivan Schiavini
    • 2
  • Hans ter Steege
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciências FlorestaisUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de UberlândiaUberlândiaBrazil
  3. 3.Naturalis Biodiversity CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Coordenação de BotânicaMuseu Paraense Emílio GoeldiBelémBrazil

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