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

12 December 2018

Cordeiro, Anaïs; Neri, Andreza

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 achieve biodiversity conservation in these areas. This study intended 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: (i) the occurrence of botanical families was related to the altitude; (ii) the richness and abundance of life forms varied along the gradient and (iii) there were populations associated with specific altitudinal belts. Rubiaceae and Polygalaceae had higher occurrence probability in higher altitudes. Hemicryptophytes and chamaephytes seem to be the most favored life forms under local extreme conditions such as low temperatures and drought. Vegetation spectra varied significantly along the gradient, highlighting the major role of the turnover of habitats in a local scale in underlying patterns of species distribution. Upper elevations encompassed a high number of indicator species, and further identification of high altitude grasslands’ indicator species will provide clues about adaptability of local species, which is important to be considered in ecosystem management and conservation.

Doi
10.1111/njb.02065