BackgroundFull floristic data, tree demography, and biomass estimates incorporating non-tree lifeforms are seldom collected and reported for forest plots in the tropics. Established research stations serve as important repositories of such biodiversity and ecological data. With a canopy crane setup within a tropical lowland rainforest estate, the 42-ha Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO) in Cape Tribulation, northern Australia is a research facility of international significance. We obtained an estimate of the vascular plant species richness for the site, by surveying all vascular plant species from various mature-phase, remnant and open vegetation patches within the site. We also integrate and report the demography and basal areas of trees ? 10 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) in a new 1-ha core plot, an extension to the pre-existing forest 1-ha plot under the canopy crane. In addition, we report for the canopy crane plot new demography and basal areas for smaller-size shrubs and treelets subsampled from nine 20 m(2) quadrats, and liana basal area and abundance from the whole plot. The DRO site has an estimated total vascular plant species richness of 441 species, of which 172 species (39%) are endemic to Australia, and 4 species are endemics to the Daintree region. The 2 x 1-ha plots contains a total of 262 vascular plant species of which 116 (1531 individuals) are tree species ? 10 cm dbh. We estimate a stem basal area of 34.9 m(2) ha(-1), of which small stems (tree saplings and shrubs <10cm dbh) and lianas collectively contribute c.4.2%. Comparing the stem density-diversity patterns of the DRO forest with other tropical rainforests globally, our meta-analysis shows that DRO forests has a comparatively high stem density and moderate species diversity, due to the influence of cyclones. These data will provide an important foundation for ecological and conservation studies in lowland tropical forest.
New informationWe present a floristic checklist, a lifeform breakdown, and demography data from two 1-ha rainforest plots from a lowland tropical rainforest study site. We also present a meta-analysis of stem densities and species diversity from comparable-sized plots across the tropics.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC4822074 | BioStudies |