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A Floristic Description of a Neotropical Coastal Savanna in Belize1

Farruggia, Frank T., Henry, M., Stevens, H., Vincent, Michael A.
Caribbean journal of science 2008 v.44 no.1 pp. 53-69
Byrsonima crassifolia, Paspalum, Pinus caribaea, Rhynchospora, cation exchange capacity, community structure, environmental factors, ferns and fern allies, flora, graminoids, landscapes, multidimensional scaling, sapodillas, savannas, species diversity, streams, topography, trees, tropics, vernal pools, woody plants, Belize
The diverse graminoid-dominated savannas of Central America remain poorly described. The flora and environment of a hyperseasonal coastal savanna near Sapodilla Lagoon, Stann Creek District, Belize were examined. Percent cover and frequency using plots and line transects were used to assess the community structure. We used non-metric multidimensional scaling and correlation to describe communitylevel variation and its environmental correlates. The flora consisted of 193 angiosperms, 2 gymnosperms, and 6 pteridophytes, and was dominated by graminoids. Species with the highest importance values were Mesosetum filifolium, Paspalum pulchellum, Rhynchospora plumosa, and Rhynchospora barbata. Woody species were scattered in dense clusters throughout the savanna, and were divided into a tall tree layer, dominated by Pinus caribaea, and a tree-palm-shrub layer, dominated by Acoelorraphe wrightii and Byrsonima crassifolia. Several large Acoelorraphe wrightii-dominated vernal pools were scattered about the landscape. Variation in species composition within the savanna correlated strongly with particular species (Acoelorraphe wrightii and Paspalum pulchellum), topography, cation exchange capacity, and copper concentration. Quantitative comparisons with another savanna studied in Belize show distinct differences in flora, structure, and dominance in spite of previously being classified as similar.