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Nowhere to escape – Diversity and community composition of ferns and lycophytes on the highest mountain in Honduras


Reyes-Chávez, Johan; Quail, Megan; Tarvin, Stephanie; Kessler, Michael; Batke, Sven P (2021). Nowhere to escape – Diversity and community composition of ferns and lycophytes on the highest mountain in Honduras. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 37(2):72-81.

Abstract

IPCC predictions for Honduras indicate that temperature will increase by up to 3–6°C and precipitation will decrease by up to 7–13% by the year 2050. To better understand how fern and lycophyte communities might be affected by climate change, we comprehensively surveyed the community compositions of ferns and lycophytes at Celaque National Park, the highest mountain in Honduras. We surveyed a total of 80 20 × 20 m2 plots along an altitudinal gradient of 1249–2844 m a.s.l., identifying all species and estimating their abundances. We recorded a total of 11,098 individuals from 160 species and 61 genera. Community composition was strongly influenced by changes in altitude, precipitation and the abundance of bryophytes (a proxy for air humidity). Of the 160 species, 63 are expected, under a RCP2.6 scenario for the year 2050, to shift their range fully or partially above the maximum altitude of the mountain. Of these, 65.1% are epiphytes. We found that species with narrow altitudinal ranges at high altitudes were more at risk. Our study indicated that conservation efforts should prioritise higher altitudinal sites, focusing particularly on preserving the vulnerable epiphytic fern species, which are likely to be at greater risk.

Abstract

IPCC predictions for Honduras indicate that temperature will increase by up to 3–6°C and precipitation will decrease by up to 7–13% by the year 2050. To better understand how fern and lycophyte communities might be affected by climate change, we comprehensively surveyed the community compositions of ferns and lycophytes at Celaque National Park, the highest mountain in Honduras. We surveyed a total of 80 20 × 20 m2 plots along an altitudinal gradient of 1249–2844 m a.s.l., identifying all species and estimating their abundances. We recorded a total of 11,098 individuals from 160 species and 61 genera. Community composition was strongly influenced by changes in altitude, precipitation and the abundance of bryophytes (a proxy for air humidity). Of the 160 species, 63 are expected, under a RCP2.6 scenario for the year 2050, to shift their range fully or partially above the maximum altitude of the mountain. Of these, 65.1% are epiphytes. We found that species with narrow altitudinal ranges at high altitudes were more at risk. Our study indicated that conservation efforts should prioritise higher altitudinal sites, focusing particularly on preserving the vulnerable epiphytic fern species, which are likely to be at greater risk.

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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
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:22 June 2021
Deposited On:25 Jun 2021 09:41
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:36
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0266-4674
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s0266467421000122
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)