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Keywords:

  • aridity;
  • biodiversity loss;
  • global warming;
  • low forest;
  • plant communities;
  • tropical inselberg

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.