Aim To (1) identify floristic regions in the lowland (below 500 m a.s.l.) tropical dipterocarp rain forest of Borneo based on tree genera, (2) determine the characteristic taxa of these regions, (3) study tree diversity patterns within Borneo, and (4) relate the floristic and diversity patterns to abiotic factors such as mean annual rainfall and geographical distance between plots.
Location Lowland tropical dipterocarp rain forest of Borneo.
Methods We used tree (diameter at breast height ≥ 9.8 cm) inventory data from 28 lowland dipterocarp rain forest locations throughout Borneo. From each location six samples of 640 individuals were drawn randomly. With these data we calculated a Sørensen and Steinhaus similarity matrix for the locations. These matrices were then used in an UPGMA clustering algorithm to determine the floristic relations between the locations (dendrogram). Principal coordinate analysis was used to ordinate the locations. Characteristic taxa for the identified floristic clusters were determined with the use of the INDVAL method of Dufrene & Legendre (1997). Finally, Mantel analysis was applied to determine the influence of mean annual rainfall and geographical distance between plots on floristic composition.
Results A total of 77 families and 363 genera were included in the analysis. On average a random sample of 640 trees from a lowland dipterocarp forest in Borneo contains 41.6 ± 3.8 families and 103.0 ± 12.7 genera. Diversity varied strongly on local scales. On a regional scale, diversity was found to be highest in south-east Borneo and central Sarawak. The most common families were Dipterocarpaceae (21.9% of trees) and Euphorbiaceae (12.2% of trees). The most common genera were Shorea (12.3% of trees) and Syzygium (5.0% of trees). The 28 locations were clustered in geographically distinct floristic regions. This was related to the fact that floristic similarity depended strongly on the geographical distance between plots and similarity in mean annual rainfall.
Conclusions We identified five main floristic regions within the lowland dipterocarp rain forests of Borneo, each of which had its own set of characteristic genera. Mean annual rainfall is an important factor in explaining differences in floristic composition between locations. The influence of geographical distance on floristic similarity between locations is probably related to the fact that abiotic factors change with distance between plots. Borneo's central mountain range generally forms an effective dispersal barrier for the lowland tree flora. Diversity patterns in Borneo are influenced by the mid-domain effect, habitat size and the influence of past climatic changes (ice ages during the Pleistocene).