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On the Beta Diversity of the Afromontane Rainforests of Rwanda. Patterns in Environment and Vegetation and the Spatial Relationships among them.

  • The stands surveyed are among the last closed canopy forests in Rwanda. Their exploration began in the early twentieth century and is still ongoing. Previous studies were mainly concerned with plant sociological issues and presented references to environmental factors in anecdotal form, at best using indirect ordination methods. The present study undertakes a classification of the vegetation with numerical methods and establishes quantitative relationships of the species’ distributional structure to environmental parameters using spatially explicit procedures. For this purpose, 94 samples were taken in 100 m² hexagonal plots. Of these, 70 samples are from Nyungwe, 14 are from Gishwati, and 10 are from Cyamudongo. Given the homogeneity of the terrain and vegetation, all vegetation types encountered, all types of stands, and all vegetation strata were included. The beta diversity is expressed by an average Bray-Curtis dissimilarity of 0.92, and in JOST’S (2007) numbers equivalents, 37.90 equally likely samples would be needed to represent the diversity encountered. Within the survey, 1198 species in 127 families were collected. Among the specimens are 6 local endemics and 40 Albertine Rift endemics. Resulting from UPGMA and FCM-NC, 20 to 40 plant communities were established depending on the level of resolution. It can be inferred by means of a Mantel correlogram that the mean zone of influence of a single vegetation stand, as sampled by a 100 m² plot in Nyungwe Forest, ranges between 0.016 and 3.42 km. Of the communities compiled using FCM-NC and UPGMA, 50% consist of individual samples. Beyond undersampling, natural small-scale discontinuities are reflected by this result. Partial db-RDA resulted in an explained variation of 9.60% and 14.41% for environmental and soil factors, respectively. Utilising variation partitioning analyses based on CCA and tb-RDA, between 21.70% and 37.80% of the variation in vegetation data could be explained. The spatially structured fraction of these parameters accounts for between 30.50% and 49.80% of the explained variation (100%). The purely environmental parameters account for a share of 10.30% to 16.30%, whereby the lower limit originates from the unimodal approach and has lost its statistical significance. The soil variables, also after partial analysis, account for a share of 19.00% to 35.70%. While the residual impact of the climatic parameters is hardly significant, the effect of the soil properties is prevalent. In general, the spatially structured fraction of the parameters is predominant here. While on the broad-scale climatic factors, the altitude a.s.l. and the geology are determining factors, some soil parameters and matrix components also show their impacts here. In the mid-range of the scale, it is the forest matrix, the soil types, and the geology that determine species distribution. While in the fine range of the scale, some unrecorded parameters seem to have an effect, there are also neutral processes that determine species composition.

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Author:Ronny Richter
Referee:Eberhard Fischer, Wilhelm Barthlott
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2021/11/17
Date of publication:2021/11/19
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz, Fachbereich 3
Date of final exam:2021/11/11
Release Date:2021/11/19
Number of pages:v, 400, XLVI
Institutes:Fachbereich 3 / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften, Abt. Biologie
BKL-Classification:42 Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG