Small-scale diversity of plant communities and distribution of species niches on a copper rock outcrop in Upper Katanga, D.R.Congo
Methods – Forty-eight 1 m2 plots were sampled for plant community and soil mineral element composition, and classified with Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic mean (UPGMA) using the Bray-Curtis distance. Plant-edaphic relationships were examined using a Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). Species niches were modelled with Generalized Additive Model (GAM). Mean edaphic factors between the soil of plant communities were compared with one-way Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric ANOVA.
Key results – The diversity of communities at the site scale was higher than observed in previous studies at a larger scale. Cu was the most discriminating edaphic factor of plant communities. However, detailed comparisons of mean edaphic factors among communities revealed individual combinations of edaphic parameters for each community, as well as differences in soil Cu content. High covariation appears to be an essential trait of the edaphic factor variation of Katangan Cu-rich soils. This makes it difficult to examine separately the effect of these factors on plant community structures. A bimodal pattern of niche distribution was found for Cu and pH. For physical parameters, niche optima were normally distributed.
Conclusions – Global variation in edaphic factors associated with variation in combinations of edaphic parameters generates a highly heterogeneous environment favourable to a high diversity of plant communities over limited areas. Conservation strategies or restoration actions to limit the impact of mining activities on Cu-enriched ecosystems should pay special attention to recreate heterogeneity, taking into account the covariation of edaphic factors.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: 01 July 2013
Plant Ecology and Evolution (a continuation of Belgian Journal of Botany, incorporating Systematics and Geography of Plants) is an international journal devoted to ecology, phylogenetics and systematics of all 'plant' groups in the traditional sense (including algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, myxomycetes), also covering related fields such as comparative and developmental morphology, conservation biology, ecophysiology, evolution, phytogeography, pollen and spores, population biology, and vegetation studies. It is published by the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium and the Botanic Garden Meise and contains original research papers, review articles, checklists, short communications and book reviews.
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