Riqueza e abundância de espécies em diferentes compartimentos da comunidade vegetal no gradiente fisionômico do cerrado em Assis, SP
Neri, Ana Carolina Abrão
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Fire protection has caused ongoing changes in savannas throughout the world, with the expansion of the woody component over more open vegetation. Although these changes have been documented at the landscape level, some questions regarding changes in the floristic composition of communities and the regeneration mechanisms present in different physiognomies remain. The aim of this study was to evaluate species richness and abundance in several components of the community (seed rain, seed bank, and the understory, intermediate, and upper strata) in a cerrado area after 50 years of fire protection. This research was developed along the physiognomic gradient (typical cerrado, dense cerrado and cerradão) existent at Assis Ecological Station, São Paulo state. Seed rain, seed bank, and floristic composition of the three strata were sampled in 30 20 x 50 m plots, 10 plots in each physiognomy. Differences between physiognomies and between seasons were analyzed by means of uni- and multivariate analysis of variance and by linear regression and correlation. Basal area was used as a surrogate of biomass along the physiognomic gradient. Species richness decreased across the whole community for the ground layer and intermediate layer along the successional gradient. In seed rain and seed bank, the floristic composition and abundance differed significantly between the three physiognomies. In seed rain, trees and saplings, mostly generalist species, represented the predominant growth forms, both in relative abundance, as in richness. In the seed bank, herbaceous species presented the highest values for richness and abundance in all physiognomies. The seed rain and seed bank are important as regeneration strategies for a group of species, usually generalists. The homogenization of vegetation structure and floristic composition puts under question the management strategies currently employed in areas designed for Cerrado conservation. Considering that Cerrado fragmentation has concentrated its gene pool in small, isolated remnants and that some plant and animal species are restricted to more open physiognomies, a more refined discussion of the implications that management regimes may have on these communities is essential.