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Plant community analysis along environmental gradients in moist afromontane forest of Gerba Dima, South-western Ethiopia

Article

Dibaba, A; Soromessa, T; Warkineh, B

NA

2022

BMC ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

22

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Background This study was carried out in Gerba Dima Forest, South-Western Ethiopia, to determine the floristic composition, species diversity and community types along environmental gradients. Identifying and interpreting the structure of species assemblages is the main goal of plant community ecology. Investigation of forest community composition and structure is very useful in understanding the status of tree population, regeneration, and diversity for conservation purposes. Method Ninety sample plots having a size of 25 x 25 m (625 m(2)) were laid by employing stratified random sampling. Nested plots were used to sample plants of different sizes and different environmental variables. All woody plant species with Diameter at breast height (DBH) >= 2.5 cm and height >= 1.5 m were recorded in 25 m x 25 m plots. Hierarchical (agglomerative) cluster analysis was performed using the free statistical software R version 3.6.1 using package cluster to classify the vegetation into plant community types. Redundancy Analysis (RDA) ordination was used in describing the pattern of plant communities along an environmental gradient. Result One hundred and eighty plant species belonging to 145 genera, 69 families and comprising of 15 endemic species were recorded. Of these, 52 species (28.9%) were trees, 6 species (3.33%) were Trees/shrubs, 31 species (17.22%) were shrubs, 76 species (42.22%) were herbs, and 15 species (8.33%) were Lianas. Rubiaceae, Acanthaceae and Asteraceae were the richest family each represented by 11 genera and 11 species (6.11%), 9 genera and 11 species (6.11%), 6 genera and 11 species (6.11%), respectively of total floristic composition. Cluster analysis resulted in five different plant communities and this result was supported by the ordination result. RDA result showed altitude was the main environmental variable in determining the plant communities. The ANOVA test indicated that the five community types differ significantly from each other with regard to Electrical Conductivity and Potassium. Conclusions Description of floristic diversity of species in Gerba Dima forest revealed the presence of high species diversity and richness. The presence of endemic plant species in the study forest shows the potential of the area for biodiversity conservation.

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