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Floristic Similarities between Lowland and Montane Areas of Atlantic Coastal Forest in Northeastern Brazil

Elba Maria Nogueira Ferraz, Elcida de Lima Araújo and Suzene Izídio da Silva
Plant Ecology
Vol. 174, No. 1 (2004), pp. 59-70
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20051332
Page Count: 12
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Floristic Similarities between Lowland and Montane Areas of Atlantic Coastal Forest in Northeastern Brazil
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Abstract

Studies undertaken in the Atlantic Coastal Forest have revealed a notable floristic heterogeneity within this vegetation type in NE Brazil. However, there is still a great need for detailed comparisons of the floristic relationships between the various forest types found there. This work presents an analysis of the floristic similarity (at the species level) of these forest as revealed by floristic surveys, with the aim of better understanding and defining this vegetation. Using a binary matrix, grouping, ordering, and TWINSPAN analysis were performed on 742 tree/shrub species listed in 35 different plant surveys. These tree/shrub species were divided by these analysis into two large floristic groups -- ombrophilous and semideciduous. The semideciduous group was formed, in general, by forest areas located at altitudes above 700 m (montane forests), and could itself be divided into two subgroups. The first subgroup was located more inland (Pernambuco), while the second subgroup was located nearer the coast (within the states of Pernambuco and Ceará). The ombrophilous group was quite heterogeneous, but could also be divided into two floristic subgroups: i) lowland forests (below 100 m a.s.l) in the states of Pernambuco, Paraíba, and in two areas of Bahia, as well as some montane forests (in Pernambuco, between 640 and 900 m a.s.l.); ii) lowlands forests in the states of Alagoas and Bahia. This latter subgroup is the largest and best defined, and has the highest degree of internal similarity. Nonetheless, it can be further subdivided into two smaller classes, one in Alagoas and the other in Bahia State. The results of this study demonstrate that the concept of the Atlantic Coastal Forest could also include montane ombrophilous forests in Pernambuco State, as these forests form a single floristic unit together with lowland forests in that state.

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