Vegetation and floristics of a lowland tropical rainforest in northeast Australia

Tng, David Y.P., Apgaua, Deborah M.G., Campbell, Mason J., Cox, Casey J., Crayn, Darren M., Ishida, Fraçoise Y., Laidlaw, Melinda J., Liddell, Michael J., Seager, Michael, and Laurance, Susan G.W. (2016) Vegetation and floristics of a lowland tropical rainforest in northeast Australia. Biodiversity Data Journal, 4 (e7599). pp. 1-20.

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Background: Full floristic data, tree demography, and biomass estimates incorporating non-tree life forms are seldom collected and reported for forest plots in the tropics. Established research stations serve as important repositories of such biodiversity and ecological data. With a canopy crane setup within a tropical lowland rainforest estate, the 42-ha Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO) in Cape Tribulation, northern Australia is a research facility of international significance. We obtained an estimate of the vascular plant species richness for the site, by surveying all vascular plant species from various mature-phase, remnant and open vegetation patches within the site. We also integrate and report the demography and basal areas of trees ≥ 10 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) in a new 1- ha core plot, an extension to the pre-existing forest 1-ha plot under the canopy crane. In addition, we report for the canopy crane plot new demography and basal areas for smaller size shrubs and treelets subsampled from nine 20 m quadrats, and liana basal area and abundance from the whole plot. The DRO site has an estimated total vascular plant species richness of 441 species, of which 172 species (39%) are endemic to Australia, and 4 species are endemics to the Daintree region. The 2 x 1-ha plots contains a total of 262 vascular plant species of which 116 (1531 individuals) are tree species ≥ 10 cm dbh. We estimate a stem basal area of 34.9 m ha, of which small stems (tree saplings and shrubs <10cm dbh) and lianas collectively contribute c.4.2%. Comparing the stem density-diversity patterns of the DRO forest with other tropical rainforests globally, our meta-analysis shows that DRO forests has a comparatively high stem density and moderate species diversity, due to the influence of cyclones. These data will provide an important foundation for ecological and conservation studies in lowland tropical forest.

New information: We present a floristic checklist, a life form breakdown, and demography data from two 1-ha rainforest plots from a lowland tropical rainforest study site. We also present a meta-analysis of stem densities and species diversity from comparable-sized plots across the tropics.

Item ID: 43045
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1314-2828
Keywords: Australia, lianas, permanent plot, rain forest, shrubs, tropical rain forest
Additional Information:

© Tng D et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery grant FT130101319
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 23:23
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310411 Plant and fungus systematics and taxonomy @ 80%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 90%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 10%
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