Geomorphological landscape features explain floristic patterns in French Guiana rainforest

Abstract : Geomorphic landscape features have been suggested as indicators of forest diversity. However, their explanatory power has not yet been explicitly tested at a regional scale in tropical rainforest. We used forest inventories conducted according to a stratified sampling design (3,132 plots in 111 transects at 33 sites) and holistic multi-scale geomorphological mapping derived from a Shuttle Radar Topography Mission digital elevation model to describe and explain spatial patterns in floristic composition across French Guiana (80,000 km2). We measured and identified 123,906 trees with DBH C20 cm and used constrained and unconstrained ordinations to analyze variations in the abundance of 221 taxa and 51 families. Variance partitioning and variograms were used to detect spatial patterns in species composition, compare the explanatory power of spatial and environmental factors, and select the variables that best explain forest composition. Strong floristic patterns corresponded to a major latitudinal gradient and significant sub-regional floristic structure. Geomorphological landscapes shaped by historic climate fluctuations and major geological events successfully captured these patterns and explained the variation in abundance of 80 taxa, corresponding to 65 % of the inventoried trees. Our findings suggest that long-term forest dynamics are under substantial ‘‘geomorphographic control’’. A geomorphological perspective on landscapes that incorporates current and past environmental filters and historical biogeographical processes could thus be used more systematically in tropical regions for regional planning and forest conservation
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Stéphane Guitet, Raphaël Pélissier, Olivier Brunaux, Gaëlle Jaouen, Daniel Sabatier. Geomorphological landscape features explain floristic patterns in French Guiana rainforest. Biodiversity and Conservation, Springer Verlag, 2015, 24 (5), pp.1215-1237. ⟨10.1007/s10531-014-0854-8⟩. ⟨hal-01204224⟩



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