Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Diversity and structure of the cloud forest in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico
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bosque de montaña
gradiente ambiental
patrones de diversidad
Región Mesoamericana
montane forests
environmental gradient
patterns of diversity
Mesoamerican region

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Martínez-Camilo, R. (2023). Diversity and structure of the cloud forest in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico. Revista De Biología Tropical, 71(1), e50771.


Introduction: Cloud forests are noted for their narrow distribution in tropical mountain systems. Floristically, they are complex and heterogeneous, and there are still information gaps that hinder understanding how their diversity and structure varies. Objective: To analyze patterns of diversity, structure, and composition of the cloud forest in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico. Methods: In 40 0.1 ha plots distributed in five sites in approximately 200 km, woody plants were measured and censused. The plots were located within an elevational belt between 1 700 and 2 100 m.a.s.l. With an analysis of variance, we determined the differences in true diversity and structure among the sites. The effect of environmental variables (climate and elevation gradient) was analyzed with simple regression models. To determine the effect of the environmental variables on floristic composition, multivariate methods were used. Results: In total, we recorded 4 021 individuals belonging to 220 species and 60 families. In true diversity, significant differences were found only in 0D (species richness), with a slight increase toward the central part of the study area. In the parameters 1D and 2D, diversity was constant. No significant differences were observed in tree density or basal area between sites. However, there was a significant decrease in density as elevation increased, while basal area increased toward higher parts. Beta diversity and differentiation in floristic composition are high and important between the plots of the same site, and they increase with increased distance between sites. Conclusions: Beta diversity and floristic differentiation contribute to variation to a greater degree in the cloud forest. Climatic variables and altitude have different effects on diversity and structure.

Objective: In this study, we analyzed the patterns of diversity, structure and composition of the cloud forest in the physiographic region Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico.

Methods: In forty 0.1 ha plot distributed in five sites along almost 200 km in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, we measured and censused the woody plants with a diameter at breast height of ≥ 5 cm. The plots were determined in an altitudinal belt between 1700 to 2100 m. With an analysis of variance, we determined the differences in richness, alpha diversity and structure among the sites, as well as simple regression models to evaluate the effect of environmental variables and altitude. We used multivariate methods to determine the variation in composition and the effect of environmental variables.

Results: In the census, we found 4 021 individuals belonging to 220 species and 60 families. Richness increased slightly toward the middle part, but significant differences were detected only between Pico de Loro and El Triunfo. Alpha diversity was constant in all the sites. No pattern was observed in density and basal area among the sites, but there was a statistically significant relationship with altitude (or temperature): a reduction in density with altitude and an increase in basal area. Beta diversity and differentiation in floristic composition is high and important among the plots of the same site and increases with distance between sites.

Conclusions: Beta diversity and floristic differentiation contribute to a greater extent to variation in the cloud forest. Climatic parameters and altitude have different effects, depending on the community parameter evaluated. However, the importance of historic factors related to the geology and natural and human disturbance that operate differentially throughout the Sierra Madre de Chiapas is also suggested.
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