Plant species diversity and composition in limestone forests of the Vietnamese Cat Ba National Park

2022 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Plant species diversity and composition in limestone forests of the Vietnamese Cat Ba National Park​
Pham, V. V.; Ammer, C. ; Annighöfer, P.   & Heinrichs, S. ​ (2022) 
Nature Conservation50 pp. 23​-64​.​ DOI: 

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Pham, Van Vien; Ammer, Christian ; Annighöfer, Peter ; Heinrichs, Steffi 
Plant species diversity and composition play crucial roles in many ecosystem services and are largely influenced by environmental conditions, as well as natural and/or anthropogenic disturbances. However, our knowledge of the drivers of plant species diversity and composition in the limestone forests of Vietnam, a hotspot of biodiversity, is limited. To fill this knowledge gap, we surveyed plant species in the Cat Ba National Park (CBNP), located on a limestone archipelago. We hypothesised that: (1) topography, accessibility and spatial isolation drive the diversity and composition of plant communities in the CBNP and that (2) isolated areas contribute to high floristic regional diversity by supporting unique species assemblages. We expected high tree species diversity within the tropical limestone forests of the CBNP, but also that: (3) the abundance of non-tree species negatively affects tree regeneration diversity and abundance. Data were obtained from 90 random sample plots (500 m 2 ) and 450 sub-sample plots (25 m 2 ) in three areas of the CBNP. We differentiated four different plant species communities and found a total of 302 species belonging to 112 families. Tree species contributed 50% to total species richness. The distribution of different plant communities in the CBNP was driven mainly by topography; that is, the percentage of rock surface and slope and concomitant differences in soil depth. Contrary to our expectations, isolated areas did not contribute greatly to the CBNP’s plant species diversity. It seems that isolated areas and, as in our case, rough topography, may act as natural barriers to seed dispersal, creating an environmental filter for tree species. Across the CBNP, there was no effect of non-tree species on tree species regeneration, but regeneration patterns differed between communities. In species-rich communities growing under favourable site conditions (e.g. low rock surface and slope), greater coverage by non-tree species had an increasingly negative effect on tree species richness and abundance in the regeneration layer. The opposite was observed in communities growing under harsh site conditions. We conclude that plant species diversity in the CBNP is high, particularly in easily accessible lowland areas where tree species contribute greatly to biodiversity. However, here, non-tree species can even restrict tree regeneration.
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Nature Conservation 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der gemäßigten Zonen 
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2022



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