A 10-year decrease in plant species richness on a neotropical inselberg: detrimental effects of global warming?

Authors

  • EMILE FONTY,

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Écologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, CNRS UMR 7179, 4 avenue du Petit-Château, 91800 Brunoy, France,
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  • CORINNE SARTHOU,

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Systématique et Evolution, UMR 7205, 16 Rue Buffon, Case Postale 39, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France,
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  • DENIS LARPIN,

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département des Jardins Botaniques et Zoologiques, Case Postale 45, 43 rue Buffon, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
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  • JEAN-FRANÇOIS PONGE

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Écologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, CNRS UMR 7179, 4 avenue du Petit-Château, 91800 Brunoy, France,
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Jean-François Ponge, tel. +33 6 78 930 133, fax+33 1 60 465 719, e-mail: ponge@mnhn.fr

Abstract

The census of vascular plants across a 10-year interval (1995–2005) at the fringe of a neotropical rainforest (Nouragues inselberg, French Guiana, South America) revealed that species richness decreased, both at quadrat scale (2 m2) and at the scale of the inselberg (three transects, embracing the whole variation in community composition). Juvenile stages of all tree and shrub species were most severely affected, without any discrimination between life and growth forms, fruit and dispersion types, or seed sizes. Species turnover in time resulted in a net loss of biodiversity, which was inversely related to species occurrence. The most probable cause of the observed species disappearance is global warming, which severely affected northern South America during the last 50 years (+2 °C), with a concomitant increase in the occurrence of aridity.

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