Primary and secondary vegetation patches as contributors to floristic diversity in a tropical deciduous forest landscape


The floristic diversity of Mexican tropical deciduous forests (TDF) is of critical importance given the high species richness (alpha diversity), species turnover (beta diversity), and the intense deforestation rates. Currently, most TDF landscapes are mosaics of agricultural land, secondary vegetation, and patches of relatively undisturbed primary vegetation. Here we illustrate how both primary forest remnants and secondary vegetation patches contribute to the floristic diversity of TDF in a landscape of volcanic origin in central Veracruz, Mexico. Our objectives were to assess sampling efficiency and inventory completeness, to compare mean and cumulative species richness between primary forest and secondary vegetation sites, and to analyze beta diversity between vegetation types. In an area of 12,300 m we recorded 105 families, 390 genera, and 682 species. Species inventories for both vegetation types were about 80% complete. Secondary vegetation is more alpha diverse than primary forest, both in terms of cumulative and mean species richness. We found a remarkably high beta diversity between vegetation types (75% of complementarity, 91.60% of mean dissimilarity). We also identified the species that contribute the most to similarity within vegetation types and to dissimilarity between vegetation types. Our results support the idea that assessing biodiversity on the landscape scale is an appropriate way to ascertain the impact of human activities. For this land mosaic, conservation of the flora would not be possible by focusing solely on primary forest remnants. We propose the implementation of a network of small conservation areas with a flexible structure, following the archipelago reserve model.