Disentangling structural patterns of natural forest fragments in a savanna matrix in the eastern Brazilian Amazon

Amaral et al 2017. Acta Amazonica 47: 111 - 122. DOI: 10.1590/1809-4392201601923

Natural fragments are an important source of richness for the management and conservation of a local flora. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of fragmentation on the structure and composition of the plant communities of forest fragments (FF) in Alter do Chão, eastern Brazilian Amazonia. The study sample consisted of 25 FF and nine continuous forest (CF) sites. We compared plant density and species richness between site categories by t-tests, analyzed the differences in composition by cluster analysis, and assessed the effect of fragment size and distance to CF on the basal area and diameter of FF assemblages by linear regression. Individual trees and shrubs with DBH ≥1.27 cm were measured in 2x250 m plots. 17,078 individuals were recorded - 75.32% in FF and 24.68% in CF, comprising 475 species, 216 genera and 64 families. Myrtaceae and Fabaceae were the most abundant families in both FF and CF. Average species richness in FF and CF was statistically different. The 20 species with the highest importance values were similar in FF and CF. The average plant diameter was similar in FF and CF, suggesting that both are “mature” forests composed of thin individuals. Average diameter and total basal area showed a negative relationship with distance to CF and fragment area, respectively. Similarity analysis revealed two groups, one composed exclusively of portions of fragmented forest. Fragments and continuous forest differed in species composition, but were similar in structure. Diameter distribution in fragments was similar to that of primary forests.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith