Melastomataceae Diversity and Abundance Along an Elevational Gradient of an Andean Ecological Corridor
April 9, 2019
Department or Program
I present a baseline assessment of the plant family Melastomataceae along an elevational gradient of the Llanganates-Sangay ecological corridor in central Ecuador. Conservation efforts within this corridor aim to preserve the high levels of diversity and endemism present in the region. Melastomataceae, as the third most diverse plant family in Ecuador, contributes valuable biodiversity, biomass, and ecological services to the ecosystems of this corridor. My findings reveal a positive correlation of melastome diversity and abundance with elevation up to 2,500 meters. At 3,000 meters, species diversity decreases sharply, but total abundance remains high. Similarity indices indicate dramatic changes in melastome community composition over even slight differences in elevation. Eighteen species of flowering melastomes belonging to four genera were found. The results of my study will be used to inform future conservation efforts and ecological studies in this incredibly unique and important Andean corridor.