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Influence of niche characteristics and forest type on fern species richness, abundance and plant size along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica


Kluge, J; Kessler, M (2011). Influence of niche characteristics and forest type on fern species richness, abundance and plant size along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica. Plant Ecology, 212(7):1109-1121.

Abstract

An analysis of the fern vegetation on 156 plots along an elevational gradient (45-3400 m) in undisturbed forests in Costa Rica, Central America, showed a hump-shaped pattern of species richness with a maximum of up to 68 species per 400 m² at mid-elevations. This study documents the contribution of specific habitats (forest types: ridges, ravines) and niches within them (dead wood, rocks, growth zones in trees) to the local fern richness and the relation of species richness to elevation and climatic variables. Forests along ravines showed significantly higher species richness, presumably caused by high environmental humidity. The mean number of individuals of occupied niches per species increased significantly with elevation, suggesting that the niche breadth of species increased and that the differentiation of niches decreased with elevation. Both findings may explain the reduced fern species richness towards and above the upper treeline, but not at low elevations. The key factors for the decreases of species richness at the extremes of the gradient are likely to involve climatic conditions.

Abstract

An analysis of the fern vegetation on 156 plots along an elevational gradient (45-3400 m) in undisturbed forests in Costa Rica, Central America, showed a hump-shaped pattern of species richness with a maximum of up to 68 species per 400 m² at mid-elevations. This study documents the contribution of specific habitats (forest types: ridges, ravines) and niches within them (dead wood, rocks, growth zones in trees) to the local fern richness and the relation of species richness to elevation and climatic variables. Forests along ravines showed significantly higher species richness, presumably caused by high environmental humidity. The mean number of individuals of occupied niches per species increased significantly with elevation, suggesting that the niche breadth of species increased and that the differentiation of niches decreased with elevation. Both findings may explain the reduced fern species richness towards and above the upper treeline, but not at low elevations. The key factors for the decreases of species richness at the extremes of the gradient are likely to involve climatic conditions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:01 Dec 2011 09:56
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:07
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1385-0237
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-010-9891-x

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