Factors determining forest diversity and biomass on a tropical volcano, Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia.
ABSTRACT: Tropical volcanoes are an important but understudied ecosystem, and the relationships between plant species diversity and compositional change and elevation may differ from mountains created by uplift, because of their younger and more homogeneous soils. We sampled vegetation over an altitudinal gradient on Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia. We modeled alpha- (plot) and beta- (among plot) diversity (Fisher's alpha), compositional change, and biomass against elevation and selected covariates. We also examined community phylogenetic structure across the elevational gradient. We recorded 902 trees and shrubs among 92 species, and 67 species of ground-cover plants. For understorey, subcanopy and canopy plants, an increase in elevation was associated with a decline in alpha-diversity, whereas data for ground-cover plants suggested a hump-shaped pattern. Elevation was consistently the most important factor in determining alpha-diversity for all components. The alpha-diversity of ground-cover vegetation was also negatively correlated with leaf area index, which suggests low light conditions in the understorey may limit diversity at lower elevations. Beta-diversity increased with elevation for ground-cover plants and declined at higher elevations for other components of the vegetation. However, statistical power was low and we could not resolve the relative importance to beta-diversity of different factors. Multivariate GLMs of variation in community composition among plots explained 67.05%, 27.63%, 18.24%, and 19.80% of the variation (deviance) for ground-cover, understorey, subcanopy and canopy plants, respectively, and demonstrated that elevation was a consistently important factor in determining community composition. Above-ground biomass showed no significant pattern with elevation and was also not significantly associated with alpha-diversity. At lower elevations communities had a random phylogenetic structure, but from 1600 m communities were phylogenetically clustered. This suggests a greater role of environmental filtering at higher elevations, and thus provides a possible explanation for the observed decline in diversity with elevation.
Project description:An investigation of terrestrial bryophyte species diversity and community structure along an altitudinal gradient from 2,001 to 4,221 m a.s.l. in Gongga Mountain in Sichuan, China was carried out in June 2010. Factors which might affect bryophyte species composition and diversity, including climate, elevation, slope, depth of litter, vegetation type, soil pH and soil Eh, were examined to understand the altitudinal feature of bryophyte distribution. A total of 14 representative elevations were chosen along an altitudinal gradient, with study sites at each elevation chosen according to habitat type (forests, grasslands) and accessibility. At each elevation, three 100 m × 2 m transects that are 50 m apart were set along the contour line, and three 50 cm × 50 cm quadrats were set along each transect at an interval of 30 m. Species diversity, cover, biomass, and thickness of terrestrial bryophytes were examined. A total of 165 species, including 42 liverworts and 123 mosses, are recorded in Gongga mountain. Ground bryophyte species richness does not show any clear elevation trend. The terrestrial bryophyte cover increases with elevation. The terrestrial bryophyte biomass and thickness display a clear humped relationship with the elevation, with the maximum around 3,758 m. At this altitude, biomass is 700.3 g m(-2) and the maximum thickness is 8 cm. Bryophyte distribution is primarily associated with the depth of litter, the air temperature and the precipitation. Further studies are necessary to include other epiphytes types and vascular vegetation in a larger altitudinal range.
Project description:Stereogrammetry applied to globally available high resolution spaceborne imagery (HRSI; < 5 m spatial resolution) yields fine-scaled digital surface models (DSMs) of elevation. These DSMs may represent elevations that range from the ground to the vegetation canopy surface, are produced from stereoscopic image pairs (stereopairs) that have a variety of acquisition characteristics, and have been coupled with lidar data of forest structure and ground surface elevation to examine forest height. This work explores surface elevations from HRSI DSMs derived from two types of acquisitions in open canopy forests. We (1) apply an automated mass-production stereogrammetry workflow to along-track HRSI stereopairs, (2) identify multiple spatially coincident DSMs whose stereopairs were acquired under different solar geometry, (3) vertically co-register these DSMs using coincident spaceborne lidar footprints (from ICESat-GLAS) as reference, and (4) examine differences in surface elevations between the reference lidar and the co-registered HRSI DSMs associated with two general types of acquisitions (DSM types) from different sun elevation angles. We find that these DSM types, distinguished by sun elevation angle at the time of stereopair acquisition, are associated with different surface elevations estimated from automated stereogrammetry in open canopy forests. For DSM values with corresponding reference ground surface elevation from spaceborne lidar footprints in open canopy northern Siberian Larix forests with slopes < 10°, our results show that HRSI DSMs acquired with sun elevation angles > 35° and < 25° (during snow-free conditions) produced characteristic and consistently distinct distributions of elevation differences from reference lidar. The former include DSMs of near-ground surfaces with root mean square errors < 0.68 m relative to lidar. The latter, particularly those with angles < 10°, show distributions with larger differences from lidar that are associated with open canopy forests whose vegetation surface elevations are captured. Terrain aspect did not have a strong effect on the distribution of vegetation surfaces. Using the two DSM types together, the distribution of DSM-differenced heights in forests (? = 6.0 m, ? = 1.4 m) was consistent with the distribution of plot-level mean tree heights (? = 6.5 m, ? = 1.2 m). We conclude that the variation in sun elevation angle at time of stereopair acquisition can create illumination conditions conducive for capturing elevations of surfaces either near the ground or associated with vegetation canopy. Knowledge of HRSI acquisition solar geometry and snow cover can be used to understand and combine stereogrammetric surface elevation estimates to co-register and difference overlapping DSMs, providing a means to map forest height at fine scales, resolving the vertical structure of groups of trees from spaceborne platforms in open canopy forests.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Many studies have analysed the effect of browsing by large herbivores on tree species but far fewer studies have studied their effect on understorey shrubs and herbs. Moreover, while many studies have shown that forest features and management intensity strongly influence understorey vegetation, the influence of such variation on the effect of large-herbivore exclusion is not known. THIS STUDY:In this study, we analysed changes of species richness, Shannon diversity, evenness and cover of understorey herbs and shrubs after excluding large herbivores for seven years on 147 forest sites, differing in management intensity and forest features, in three regions of Germany (Schwäbische Alb, Hainich-Dün, Schorfheide-Chorin). Further, we studied how the effect of large-herbivore exclusion on understorey vegetation was influenced by forest management intensity and several forest features. RESULTS:As expected, exclusion of large herbivores resulted in highly variable results. Nevertheless, we found that large-herbivore exclusion significantly increased cover and Shannon diversity of shrub communities, while it did not affect herb communities. Forest management intensity did not influence the effect of large-herbivore exclusion while some forest features, most often relative conifer cover, did. In forests with high relative conifer cover, large-herbivore exclusion decreased species richness and cover of herbs and increased Shannon diversity of herbs and shrubs, while in forests with low relative conifer cover large-herbivore exclusion increased species richness and cover of herbs, and decreased Shannon diversity of herbs and shrubs. CONCLUSION:We suggest that browsing by large herbivores should be included when studying understorey shrub communities, however when studying understorey herb communities the effects of browsing are less general and depend on forest features.
Project description:The ecological functioning of dryland ecosystems is closely related to the spatial pattern of the vegetation, which is typically structured in patches. Ground arthropods mediate key soil functions and ecological processes, yet little is known about the influence of dryland vegetation pattern on their abundance and diversity. Here, we investigate how patch size and cover, and distance between patches relate to the abundance and diversity of meso-and microarthropods in semi-arid steppes. We found that species richness and abundance of ground arthropods exponentially increase with vegetation cover, patch size, and patch closeness. The communities under vegetation patches mainly respond to patch size, while the communities in the bare-soil interpatches are mostly controlled by the average distance between patches, independently of the concurrent changes in vegetation cover. Large patches seem to play a critical role as reserve and source of ground arthropod diversity. Our results suggest that decreasing vegetation cover and/or changes in vegetation pattern towards small and over-dispersed vegetation patches can fast lead to a significant loss of ground arthropods diversity in drylands.
Project description:Insect pollinator communities are thought to transition from bee-dominated communities at low elevations to fly-dominated communities at high elevations. We predicted that increased tree canopy cover and a subsequent decrease in meadows and flowering plants would limit bees but not flies at higher elevations. We tested and supported this prediction by examining changes in both abundance and species richness for 128 bee species and 96 fly species at key points along an elevational gradient in Northern Arizona represented by distinct vegetation life zones. In addition to an increase in fly species and abundance relative to bees with increasing elevation, there were changes in community structure). To better understand factors that might influence this transition we examined how tree canopy cover changed along the elevational gradient and how this influenced the change in insect pollinator communities. While bee communities were progressively divergent between forest and meadow habitats with increasing elevation and tree canopy cover, there was no significant pattern with flies between meadow and forest habitats. However, fly abundance did increase with increasing elevation relative to bees. Along a comparable elevational gradient on an adjacent mountain with no tree canopy cover (i.e., a fire burned mountain), the bee-to-fly transition did not occur; bees persisted as the dominant pollinator into the highest life zone. This suggests that tree canopy cover can in part explain the transition from bee-to fly-dominated communities. In conclusion, this is the first study in North America to document a bee-fly transition for both abundance and species richness and show that tree canopy cover may play a role in determining pollinator community composition, by restricting bees to open meadow habitats.
Project description:The aim of this research is to investigate the patterns of vascular plant species richness, diversity, and distribution along an elevation gradient in the Abune Yosef mountain range, Ethiopia. Preferential systematic sampling was employed to collect vegetation and environmental data along the elevation gradient. We found that plant species richness declines monotonically from low to high elevations. Specifically, vascular plant species richness and diversity were lower in the Afroalpine grassland (high elevation) than in the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest (low elevations). In contrast, endemic vascular plant richness was significantly higher in the Afroalpine grassland than in the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest. Elevation showed a significant impact on the richness, diversity, and endemism of vascular plants. According to Sørensen's coefficient, the similarity between Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest vegetation types is higher (32%) than the similarity between Ericaceous forest and Afroalpine grassland (18%). Only 5% similarity was recorded between the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Afroalpine grassland. Growth forms showed different elevational richness patterns. Trees and liana increased monotonically up to 3300 m. Shrub and herb richness patterns followed a hump-shaped and inverted hump-shaped pattern along the elevation gradient. The elevation patterns of vascular plant species richness, diversity, and growth form in the present study may be attributed to differences in management intensity, spatial heterogeneity, microclimatic variations, and anthropogenic disturbances.
Project description:Pakistani Himalaya stretches over a wide range of altitudinal gradients and supports high diversity of medicinal plants that are an important source for rural livelihood. Altitudinal effects on ground vegetation have already been indicated but ground vegetation is also under severe threat of grazing and over collection. The present study investigated the effect of altitude on medicinal plants abundance in both old-growth and derived woodland forests. Each of the five line transects was selected in old-growth and derived woodland forests. Each line transect consisted of four plots distributed at four altitudinal levels (2200, 2300, 2400, and 2500 m asl). Species richness under derived woodland had shown strong negative correlation (r = -0.95) with altitude while it was found to be nonsignificant under old-growth. Cover of most of the species such as Veronica laxa (r = -0.95, P ≤ 0.05) had shown significant negative correlation with altitude under derived woodland. Cover abundance of some species like Valeriana jatamansi and Viola canescens has also shown significant negative correlation under old-growth forest. Derived woodland can decrease the cover abundance of valuable medicinal plants towards extension at higher altitudes. Thus, protection of the derived woodland could serve as a tool for the improvement of rural livelihood and ecological restoration.
Project description:The interactions between climate and land-use change are dictating the distribution of flora and fauna and reshuffling biotic community composition around the world. Tropical mountains are particularly sensitive because they often have a high human population density, a long history of agriculture, range-restricted species, and high-beta diversity due to a steep elevation gradient. Here we evaluated the change in distribution of woody vegetation in the tropical Andes of South America for the period 2001-2014. For the analyses we created annual land-cover/land-use maps using MODIS satellite data at 250 m pixel resolution, calculated the cover of woody vegetation (trees and shrubs) in 9,274 hexagons of 115.47 km<sup>2</sup> , and then determined if there was a statistically significant (p < 0.05) 14 year linear trend (positive-forest gain, negative-forest loss) within each hexagon. Of the 1,308 hexagons with significant trends, 36.6% (n = 479) lost forests and 63.4% (n = 829) gained forests. We estimated an overall net gain of ~500,000 ha in woody vegetation. Forest loss dominated the 1,000-1,499 m elevation zone and forest gain dominated above 1,500 m. The most important transitions were forest loss at lower elevations for pastures and croplands, forest gain in abandoned pastures and cropland in mid-elevation areas, and shrub encroachment into highland grasslands. Expert validation confirmed the observed trends, but some areas of apparent forest gain were associated with new shade coffee, pine, or eucalypt plantations. In addition, after controlling for elevation and country, forest gain was associated with a decline in the rural population. Although we document an overall gain in forest cover, the recent reversal of forest gains in Colombia demonstrates that these coupled natural-human systems are highly dynamic and there is an urgent need of a regional real-time land-use, biodiversity, and ecosystem services monitoring network.
Project description:The warming trend in the Arctic region is expected to cause drastic changes including permafrost degradation and vegetation shifts. We investigated the spatial distribution of ice content and stable isotopic compositions of water in near-surface permafrost down to a depth of 1 m in the Indigirka River lowlands of northeastern Siberia to examine how the permafrost conditions control vegetation and microtopography in the Taiga-Tundra boundary ecosystem. The gravimetric water content (GWC) in the frozen soil layer was significantly higher at microtopographically high elevations with growing larch trees (i.e., tree mounds) than at low elevations with wetland vegetation (i.e., wet areas). The observed ground ice (ice-rich layer) with a high GWC in the tree mounds suggests that the relatively elevated microtopography of the land surface, which was formed by frost heave, strongly affects the survival of larch trees. The isotopic composition of the ground ice indicated that equilibrium isotopic fractionation occurred during ice segregation at the tree mounds, which implies that the ice formed with sufficient time for the migration of unfrozen soil water to the freezing front. In contrast, the isotopic data for the wet areas indicated that rapid freezing occurred under relatively non-equilibrium conditions, implying that there was insufficient time for ice segregation to occur. The freezing rate of the tree mounds was slower than that of the wet areas due to the difference of such as soil moisture and snow cover depends on vegetation and microtopography. These results indicate that future changes in snow cover, soil moisture, and organic layer, which control underground thermal conductivity, will have significant impacts on the freezing environment of the ground ice at the Taiga-Tundra boundary in northeastern Siberia. Such changes in the freezing environment will then affect vegetation due to changes in the microtopography of the ground surface.
Project description:The establishment of invasive alien species in varied habitats across the world is now recognized as a genuine threat to the preservation of biodiversity. Specifically, plant invasions in understory tropical forests are detrimental to the persistence of healthy ecosystems. Monitoring such invasions using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite remote sensing has been shown to be valuable in designing management interventions for conservation of native habitats. Object-based classification methods are very helpful in identifying invasive plants in various habitats, by their inherent nature of imitating the ability of the human brain in pattern recognition. However, these methods have not been tested adequately in dense tropical mixed forests where invasion occurs in the understorey. This study compares a pixel-based and object-based classification method for mapping the understorey invasive shrub Lantana camara (Lantana) in a tropical mixed forest habitat in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot in India. Overall, a hierarchical approach of mapping top canopy at first, and then further processing for the understorey shrub, using measures such as texture and vegetation indices proved effective in separating out Lantana from other cover types. In the first method, we implement a simple parametric supervised classification for mapping cover types, and then process within these types for Lantana delineation. In the second method, we use an object-based segmentation algorithm to map cover types, and then perform further processing for separating Lantana. The improved ability of the object-based approach to delineate structurally distinct objects with characteristic spectral and spatial characteristics of their own, as well as with reference to their surroundings, allows for much flexibility in identifying invasive understorey shrubs among the complex vegetation of the tropical forest than that provided by the parametric classifier. Conservation practices in tropical mixed forests can benefit greatly by adopting methods which use high resolution remotely sensed data and advanced techniques to monitor the patterns and effective functioning of native ecosystems by periodically mapping disturbances such as invasion.