Assessing fern diversity: relative species richness and its environmental correlates in Uganda

Authors: Lwanga, J.S.1; Balmford, A.2; Badaza, R.3

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 7, Number 11, November 1998 , pp. 1387-1398(12)

Publisher: Springer

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Techniques for the rapid quantification of tropical biodiversity are of critical importance in deciding where to invest scarce conservation resources. Here we describe a simple survey method for assessing species-level richness of a poorly known plant group, the pteridophytes. We then illustrate the use of a powerful, rarefaction- based technique of controlling for inevitable differences in sampling effort to calculate the relative species richness of our study sites. Lastly, we explore how closely observed patterns of relative species richness of Ugandan forests are correlated with a suite of simple environmental variables. We find that fully 75% of the variance in our estimate of fern diversity can be predicted from just two measures: soil fertility (scored as C/N ratio, itself related to rainfall); and distance from the nearest putative Pleistocene refugium.

Keywords: Uganda; biodiversity surrogates; environmental predictors; ferns; relative species richness

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Forest Department, PO Box 1752, Kampala, Uganda and Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK 2: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10, 2TN, UK 3: Forest Department, PO Box 1752, Kampala, Uganda

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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