Tree species diversity of coastal lowland semideciduous forest fragments in northern Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil
AbstractHabitat destruction has caused Brazilian coastal lowland semideciduous forests to suffer severe fragmentation. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, especially in the northern region, these fragments are under severe threat of destruction, while data on their floristic diversity and community structure are still lacking. In this study, six secondary forest fragments (henceforth called sites) of coastal lowland semideciduous forests with areas ranging from 13 to 1200 ha were studied. The objective was to evaluate the structure and diversity of trees of these sites and relate them to the conservation status of this region. Five plots of 20 x 20 m were established in each site, totalling a sample area of 1.4 ha and all trees with DBH â‰¥ 5cm were sampled. The families with the highest species richness were Fabaceae, Sapotaceae, Myrtaceae and Meliaceae. The most abundant species were: Metrodorea nigra, Pseudopiptadenia contorta and Senefeldera verticillata. The richness, evenness and Shannon diversity values ranged from 59 to 89 species, 0.75 to 0.87 and from 2.59 to 3.79 nats.ind-1, respectively. Sites showed high floristic similarity. The tree density values varied from 1410 to 1840 ind.ha-1 and were within the levels expected for semideciduous forest; however, the basal area values (19.8 to 28.0 m2.ha-1) are those usually observed in disturbed forests. Despite being secondary forests, the sites had high species diversity with occurrence of tree species of recognized conservation value. Urgent action must be taken to manage and conserve these forests, such as: (i) forest corridors establish connecting fragments especially using zoochorous tree species, and (ii) use forest enrichment techniques using species that are absent or presently at low density as a result of intensive exploitation in the past.
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