J Plant Ecol ›› 2017, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (5): 771-779.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtw088

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Soil and altitude drive diversity and functioning of Brazilian Páramos (campo de altitude)

Andreza Viana Neri1,*, Gladson Ramon Alves Borges1, João Augusto Alves Meira-Neto1, Luiz Fernando Silva Magnago2, Ian Michael Trotter3, Carlos Ernesto G. R. Schaefer4 and Stefan Porembski5   

  1. 1 Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Laboratório de Ecologia e Evolução de Plantas, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, PH Rolfs, S/N, Campus Universitário, Viçosa, Minas Gerais 36570-900, Brazil; 2 Departamento de Biologia, Setor de Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras, Minas Gerais 37200-000, Brazil; 3 Departamento de Economia Rural, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, PH Rolfs, S/N, Campus Universitário, Viçosa, Minas Gerais 36570-900, Brazil; 4 Departamento de Solos, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, PH Rolfs, S/N, Campus Universitário, Viçosa, Minas Gerais 36570-900, Brazil; 5 Allgemeine und Spezielle Botanik, Institut für Biowissenschaften, Universität Rostock, Wismarsche Str. 8, D-18051 Rostock, Germany
  • Received:2016-02-12 Accepted:2016-08-29 Published:2017-09-27
  • Contact: Neri, Andreza

Abstract: Aims The vegetation on Brazilian Páramos consists of assemblages that are driven mainly by the influence of strong environmental filtering. It is very important to understand the effect of environmental variation on taxonomic diversity and on functional diversity. Considering the lack of information about the functional diversity in Brazilian Páramos, we analyzed for the first time the effects of altitude and edaphic attributes on functional traits, as well as on taxonomic and functional diversity. We also wanted to answer the questions: Which ecological strategies are favorable in high-altitude grassland? Does soil attributes determine distributions of traits in high-altitude grassland? Considering the studied altitudinal gradient is altitude an important variable in the community assembly?
Methods The study was conducted on three mountains: Mammoth (1850 m), Elephant (1790 m) and Totem (1690 m) in Serra do Brigadeiro State Park, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Those mountains represent the 'Serra das Cabe?as', a smaller ridge that is surrounded by the Atlantic Forest, one of the 25 hotspot of biodiversity. The samples were taken using 100 plots of 1 m 2 per mountain that were randomly distributed. All plants except mosses were sampled. The taxonomic diversity was evaluated using richness, Shannon diversity, effective number of species and Pielou evenness. For the functional diversity, we considered the functional richness, functional evenness and functional divergence. Generalized linear models (GLM/Poisson and quasi-Poisson) were used to evaluate the effect of abiotic variables (altitude, soil depth and soil chemical attributes) on biotic variables (number of species and individuals, life form, dispersal and fruit type) and ordinary least squares regression to evaluate the effect of abiotic variables on the functional and taxonomic diversity.
Important findings The soil variables presented a considerable edaphic gradient associated with altitude. The soil in Serra das Cabe?as plays an important role for the plant diversity: richness and diversity index were positively related with fertility. With regard to the life form, nanophanerophytes tended to increase with altitude and soil depth, while therophytes tended to decrease with altitude. The dispersal type was also associated with the abiotic variables: autochory decreases with altitude, while zoochory increases. Functional richness increases with fertility and the functional evenness with altitude. The studied gradient showed that altitude is working as a filter for functional traits and indices and is, together with soil attributes, an important determinant for the distribution of plants on Brazilian Páramos .

Key words: mountain conservation, vegetation islands, functional diversity, life form, highland grassland, functional traits

摘要:
Aims The vegetation on Brazilian Páramos consists of assemblages that are driven mainly by the influence of strong environmental filtering. It is very important to understand the effect of environmental variation on taxonomic diversity and on functional diversity. Considering the lack of information about the functional diversity in Brazilian Páramos, we analyzed for the first time the effects of altitude and edaphic attributes on functional traits, as well as on taxonomic and functional diversity. We also wanted to answer the questions: Which ecological strategies are favorable in high-altitude grassland? Does soil attributes determine distributions of traits in high-altitude grassland? Considering the studied altitudinal gradient is altitude an important variable in the community assembly?
Methods The study was conducted on three mountains: Mammoth (1850 m), Elephant (1790 m) and Totem (1690 m) in Serra do Brigadeiro State Park, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Those mountains represent the 'Serra das Cabe?as', a smaller ridge that is surrounded by the Atlantic Forest, one of the 25 hotspot of biodiversity. The samples were taken using 100 plots of 1 m 2 per mountain that were randomly distributed. All plants except mosses were sampled. The taxonomic diversity was evaluated using richness, Shannon diversity, effective number of species and Pielou evenness. For the functional diversity, we considered the functional richness, functional evenness and functional divergence. Generalized linear models (GLM/Poisson and quasi-Poisson) were used to evaluate the effect of abiotic variables (altitude, soil depth and soil chemical attributes) on biotic variables (number of species and individuals, life form, dispersal and fruit type) and ordinary least squares regression to evaluate the effect of abiotic variables on the functional and taxonomic diversity.
Important findings The soil variables presented a considerable edaphic gradient associated with altitude. The soil in Serra das Cabe?as plays an important role for the plant diversity: richness and diversity index were positively related with fertility. With regard to the life form, nanophanerophytes tended to increase with altitude and soil depth, while therophytes tended to decrease with altitude. The dispersal type was also associated with the abiotic variables: autochory decreases with altitude, while zoochory increases. Functional richness increases with fertility and the functional evenness with altitude. The studied gradient showed that altitude is working as a filter for functional traits and indices and is, together with soil attributes, an important determinant for the distribution of plants on Brazilian Páramos .