Plant Ecology

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 135–152 | Cite as

Pattern of tree species diversity in riparian forest fragments of different widths (SE Brazil)

  • Jean Paul Metzger
  • Luis Carlos Bernacci
  • Renato Goldenberg


Width is an essential element of the spatial configuration of riparian forests and may be fundamental in determining their corridor function. In the present study we tested the effect of forest width on floristic structure (tree species composition and diversity) in 15 fragments of riparian forest in an agricultural fragmented landscape of SE Brazil. All these fragments were chosen in a geomorphological homogeneous river reach under similar soil, topographic and human disturbance conditions in order to minimize the influence of these factors. The forest widths considered ranged from 30 to 650 m. The results showed that total species richness and climax species richness were significantly greater when we consider larger fragments, as has been observed in other studies. Nevertheless, species diversity and evenness were not significantly correlated with forest width. The analysis of species composition showed that the narrowest fragments were characterized by species well adapted to temporary flood conditions, while medium and wide fragments showed a composition typical of drier upland areas. Therefore, the effect of forest width on floristic structure appears to be more strongly linked to the effect of river floods in the case of the fragments studied. The existence in riparian corridors of a drier forest, in general richer and more diversified than the annually flooded forest, seems to favor the maintenance of regional species diversity in fragmented landscapes.

Diversity Corridor function Fragment width Landscape ecology Tropical forests Vascular plants 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Paul Metzger
    • 1
  • Luis Carlos Bernacci
    • 2
  • Renato Goldenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre d'Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques Continentaux, UMR C5576ToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Seção de BotânicaInstituto Agronômico de CampinasCampinas, SP

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