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Geographical and environmental controls of palm beta diversity in paleo-riverine terrace forests in Amazonian Peru

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The palm (Arecaceae) community on low paleo-riverine terraces (terrace forest) in the north-western Amazon, is described, and we assessed the importance of environmental differences and geographic distance as drivers of its local (252 grain and 0-500 extent) and regional scale (500 2 grain and 0.3-143 km extent) beta diversity using ordination, multiple regressions on distance matrices and Indicator Species Analysis. A total of 15,869 individuals and 37 species of palm were sampled in 10 terrace forest transects, while 3758 individuals and 21 species were sampled in two adjacent floodplain forest transects for comparison. The terrace and floodplain forest were clearly different in their diversity and floristic composition. The relative importance of geographical distance and environmental difference as controls of terrace forest beta diversity was scale dependent, with environmental differences, notably in soil moisture, dominating at local scales and geographical distance dominating at regional scales. In fact, none of the environmental factors had a significant influence on regional-scale beta diversity. The geographical distance decay in floristic similarity was markedly steeper at local scale ( -0.25 km -1) than at regional scale ( -0.003 km-1). Such a nonlinear decay is expected if simple dispersal limitation controls beta diversity. However, the absent flattening of the distance decay at the largest distances and the sub-Andean affinities of the westernmost palm communities suggest that large-scale biogeographical processes also contribute to the regional-scale beta diversity. Hereby our results indicate that not only local environment, but also dispersal limitation and biogeographical history can be important controls of the diversity and composition of local plant communities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Ecology
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006

    Research areas

  • Dispersal limitation, Distance decay, Regional factors, Scale dependency

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