Publication details

The varying roles of environmental drivers of fine-scale diversity in a hyperdiverse tropical rainforest



Year of publication 2017
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description In contrast to trees, a considerable part of plant biodiversity of tropical rainforests is still largely unexplored. We examined the fine-scale drivers of ground herb species richness and composition in one of the world’s most species-rich plant communities. Using 200 subplots of two 1-ha permanent plots in Brunei Darussalam, Borneo, a complete composition of ground herbs was sampled and assigned to 5 frequently occurring functional-taxonomic groups, i.e. ferns, aroids, gingers, mycoheterotrophs and orchids. In total, 157 species of ground herbs were recorded, most of them belonging to the families Zingiberaceae and Araceae. We analyzed the relationship between sets of three key environmental factors and i) species composition, ii) total species richness, iii) each group’s species richness. The most important factor was topography. It had a strong impact on the total species richness as well as species richness of aroids and ferns. The role of soil chemistry was also important, but less pronounced. The taxonomic-functional species groups responded differently to environment. Gingers and aroids responded to the light conditions, while ferns showed the closest association to local topography due to their preference for shady humid microhabitats and easy dispersal. On the other hand, mycoheterotrophs and orchids showed no links to environmental conditions. Given their dependence on heterotrophy or mixotrophy, these two groups mostly utilize other resources than the rest of the studied groups. The present study emphasizes the role of microhabitat conditions on the patterns of functional diversity in tropical rainforest plant communities, calling for further research regarding various functional groups and spatiotemporal resolutions.
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