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Abstract Detail


Ramos, Michael [1], Skillman, John B. [1].

Biodiversity in the shadows. Do forest understory herbs exhibit a latitudinal diversity gradient?

There exists a pattern of latitudinal gradient in species diversity consistently observed among many taxonomic groups, including trees. Species richness in most taxa increases towards the equator. Although this is a well-known phenomenon, a universally accepted explanation does not exist. In this preliminary literature survey, we examined species richness of forest understory herbaceous plants to determine whether this expected biogeographic pattern held for this plant growth form. Herbaceous plants are known to make a major contribution to the overall biodiversity of many forest ecosystems. Indeed, forest floor vegetation may exhibit greater species richness than that of the trees in the same forests. However, to our knowledge, no one has documented the existence of a latitudinal diversity gradient for this ecologically significant plant growth form. We examined various published forest vegetation surveys across a broad latitudinal range in a first effort at verifying the existence of this pattern. Interestingly, these data do not support the hypothesis that shade-tolerant understory herbaceous species exhibit greater species richness in low- compared to high-latitude forests. Possible explanations for this unexpected result will be discussed.

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1 - California State University, Department Of Biology, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA, 92407, USA

latitudinal diversity gradient
forest ecology

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Topics
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PBG007
Abstract ID:955
Candidate for Awards:None

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