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Spatial patterns along an elevation gradient in high altitude grasslands, Brazil

de Almeida Campos Cordeiro, Anaïs, Neri, Andreza Viana
Nordic journal of botany 2019 v.37 no.2
Polygalaceae, Rubiaceae, altitude, biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, chamaephytes, drought, ecosystem management, geographical distribution, grasslands, habitats, hemicryptophytes, humans, indicator species, plant communities, probability, regression analysis, temperature, vulnerable species, Brazil
The Brazilian high altitude grasslands are important biodiversity centers that contribute to human well‐being far outside their boundaries. They host many vulnerable species that may go locally extinct as a result of small changes in the environment. Performing studies on local species distribution is important to guide biodiversity conservation in these areas. This study aimed to characterize a high altitude grassland plant community along an elevation gradient in southeastern Brazil. Simple logistic regression, chi‐squared tests and indicator species analysis were performed to investigate respectively whether: 1) the occurrence of botanical families was related to the altitude; 2) the richness and abundance of life forms varied along the gradient and 3) there were populations associated with specific altitudinal belts. Rubiaceae and Polygalaceae had higher occurrence probability at higher altitudes. Hemicryptophytes and chamaephytes seem to be the most favored life forms under local extreme conditions such as low temperatures and drought. The vegetation spectra varied significantly along the gradient, highlighting the major role of the turnover of habitats on a local scale for the underlying patterns of species distribution. Upper elevations encompassed a high number of indicator species, and further analyses of indicator species of high altitude grasslands will provide clues about adaptability of local species, important to consider in ecosystem management and conservation.