Ecologists have long sought to understand the factors controlling the structure of savanna vegetation. Using data from 2154 sites in savannas across Africa, Australia, and South America, we found that increasing moisture availability drives increases in fire and tree basal area, whereas fire reduces tree basal area. However, among continents, the magnitude of these effects varied substantially, so that a single model cannot adequately represent savanna woody biomass across these regions. Historical and environmental differences drive the regional variation in the functional relationships between woody vegetation, fire, and climate. These same differences will determine the regional responses of vegetation to future climates, with implications for global carbon stocks.
Aim This paper presents a spatial classification of the environmental and ecological diversity of the cerrado region of Brazil, as well as an appraisal of the levels of conversion to agriculture and of the extent of land protection.Location The cerrado region of Brazil, located in the centre of Brazil, occupies c. 2.5 million square kilometres. Our study area represents roughly 85% of the total. This ecologically heterogeneous region is dominated by savannas, but also contains several types of forests and xerophytic communities that often form mosaics with the savannas. Its high biodiversity is seriously threatened by the accelerated process of conversion to agriculture and a deficiency in the extent and the representativeness of protected areas.Methods We selected 124 land systems from a previous study of the lowlands of South America. The maps were digitized and 41 parameters, where environmental information was available, were used to build a matrix. A cluster analysis was then performed and the results used to classify the land systems into units at two scales. The larger units, characterized by the dominant landform and vegetation, were considered as landscape units. Within each of these, smaller units called ecological units were defined by the physiognomy and phenology of the dominant vegetation, topography and drainage. Using GIS, we mapped the resulting ecological units and incorporated the information on land use from the municipal agricultural census of 1996. In addition, data on the extent of protected land units was used to assess the status of land protection in each ecological unit.Results Five landscape units and 15 ecological units were identified, mapped and explained. These units were not continuous but were represented by disjunct patches located in different parts of the study region. Brief descriptions are given including the geographical locations and dominant ecological features. They also include the extent of land conversion to agriculture (1996 census figures) in each of the various patches as well as the number and area of units of conservation. Main conclusionsThe high level of land conversion to agriculture is a major threat to the conservation of the remarkable biodiversity of the cerrado region. This, together with the poor status of land protection, represents the major environmental problem facing this region. However, the fact that areas with similar general ecological conditions have a disjunct distribution is important for conservation purposes, even though the details of floristic similarities and biogeographic influences have still to be worked out. Our detailed spatial classification has made this disjunction clearly apparent and has allowed us to map ecologically similar areas accurately. This allows the evaluation of the status of these areas in terms of land use and land protection and may be used in the design of conservation strategies.
The structure and dynamics of approximately 64 ha of undisturbed gallery forest were studied over six years. Trees from 31 cm gbh (c. 10 cm dbh) were measured every three years from 1985. They were in 151 (10x20 m) permanent plots in the Gama forest in the Federal District of Brazil. Natural regeneration (individuals under 31 cm gbh) was measured in subplots (of 2x 2 m, 5 x5 m and 10× 10 m) within the 200 m 2 plots. The total tree flora (gbh > 31 cm) consisted of 93 species, 81 genera and 44 families in 1985. The Leguminosae, Myrtaceae and Rubiaceae were the families richest in number of species. Most individuals and species were under 45 cm diameter and 20 m high while the maximum diameter per species ranged from 30 to 95 cm. The density structure of trees and natural regeneration was similar, in which the densities of c. 80% of the species represented less than 1% of the total density. The periodic mean annual diameter increment for trees from 10 cm dbh, was c. 0.25 cm/year. Variability was high with coefficients of variation c. 100% or more. The Gama community may maintain tree diversity and structure in undisturbed conditions. Regeneration of c. 80% of the species was found in the establishing phase (poles); the diameter structure was typical of native forests with the number of individuals decreasing with increasing size classes and showing little change over the six years; recruitment compensated for the mortality of most of the abundant species. The soils in Gama gallery forest were dystrophic with high aluminium content. Multivariate analysis suggested the stream, natural gaps and edges as the main causes of floristic differentiation at the community level.
Diameter increments, recruitment and mortality were studied over a six-year period in a 3.02 ha sample in an area of 64 ha of undisturbed gallery forest alongside the Gama stream. The study site is located in Fazenda Agua Limpa in Brasilia, Federal District, Brazil. Trees 2=31 cm gbh (10 cm dbh) were measured every three years from 1985 in 151 (10 m X 20 m) permanent plots in Gama forest.The mean annual diameter increment for trees ^10 cm dbh was 0.25 cm y" 1 . Variability was high with coefficients of variation c. 100% or more. Light-demanding and large upper storey species tended to grow faster than shade-tolerant and lower storey species. Mean increments for the community increased with increasing diameter classes.The mean annual mortality rate for the community was 3.5% y" 1 while the recruitment was 2.7%. The community was dynamic with 86% of all species either suffering mortality or gaining recruits or both during the six years. The net difference between recruitment and mortality was zero for 55 species. The recruitment compensated for the mortality of most of the abundant species.
Changes in floristic composition and structure in a cerrado sensu stricto area were studied over a 9-y period. A sample of 19 (20-m × 50-m) permanent plots was assessed at 3-y intervals from 1985 to 1994, when all stems ≥ 5 cm at 0.30 m above the ground level were measured. There was little change in species composition over the period. Changes in density and basal area of the whole community were in the range of 5% over the 9 y. These parameters fluctuated over the years with the greatest differences found in the comparisons of 1991, 2 y after an accidental fire reached the site, with other years. The changes in density and basal area were greater than in several tropical forests, probably due to disturbances such as fire occurring at 3 to 5-y intervals. The nearly constant density and basal area suggested a highly resilient community.
Floristic and structural comparisons and a numerical classification were performed to identify the priority areas for conservation of genetic resources in central Brazil. The main type of woody vegetation, cerrado sensu stricto (savanna woodland with 10–60% tree cover), was sampled under a uniform methodology in six selected sites (total sample of 6 ha) scattered in a physiographic unit called the Pratinha Plateau located between 15–20° S and 46–49° W. A total of 6971 trees belonging to 139 species and 42 families was measured. Each site had a combination of 50–80 species and approximately 30 families but only 22 species from 14 families were common to all sites. Similarity decreased with distance, indicating the existence of geographical gradients as the physical characteristics were relatively uniform and the soils were dystrophic at all sites. The most dissimilar sites, in the localities of Patrocínio-MG and Paracatu-MG were recommended for the establishment of conservation units. The already existent conservation units arc all clumped in the Federal District and are not enough to protect the genetic heritage of the plateau. Floristics and phytosociological surveys based on land system zoning were recommended as useful tools in planning conservation areas at a regional level to preserve the maximum biodiversity.
RESUMO -(Fitossociologia de um fragmento de cerrado sensu stricto na APA do Paranoá, DF, Brasil). Este estudo foi conduzido no Distrito Federal, no Centro Olímpico da Universidade de Brasília. O local é um dos poucos remanescentes de vegetação natural no perímetro urbano de Brasília. O objetivo do trabalho foi estudar a composição florística e a fitossociologia do cerrado sensu stricto, visando obter subsídios para um plano de conservação da área. Foram alocadas aleatoriamente dez parcelas de 20×50m (1.000m2 ). Foram incluídos na amostragem todos os troncos com diâmetro maior ou igual a 5cm, obtidos a 30cm do solo. Foram amostradas 54 espécies distribuídas em 44 gêneros e 30 famílias. A família Leguminosae apresentou o maior número de espécies (9), seguida da Malpighiaceae (4) e Vochysiaseae (4 ABSTRACT -(Phytosociology of a cerrado sensu stricto fragment at the Paranoá Environmental Protection Area, DF, Brazil). This study was conducted in a remnant of cerrado sensu stricto at the Olimpic Center of the University of Brasília, at the Paranoá Environmental Protection Area -DF. The site is one of the few remnants of natural vegetation within the urban perimeter of Brasília. The objective was to investigate the floristic composition and the phytosociology of the cerrado sensu stricto to gather information for a conservation plan. Ten 20×50m (1,000m 2 ) plots were ramdonly located and all woody individuals with dbh equal or greater than 5cm at 30cm from ground level were identified and measured. A total of 54 species in 44 genera and 30 families were found at the site. Leguminosae had the most species (9), followed by Malpighiaceae (4) and Vochysiaseae (4).
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