Factors determining forest diversity and biomass on a tropical volcano, Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia.
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Tropical volcanoes are an important but understudied ecosystem, and the relationships between plant species diversity and compositional change and elevation may differ from mountains created by uplift, because of their younger and more homogeneous soils. We sampled vegetation over an altitudinal gradient on Mt. Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia. We modeled alpha- (plot) and beta- (among plot) diversity (Fisher's alpha), compositional change, and biomass against elevation and selected covariates. We also examined community phylogenetic structure across the elevational gradient. We recorded 902 trees and shrubs among 92 species, and 67 species of ground-cover plants. For understorey, subcanopy and canopy plants, an increase in elevation was associated with a decline in alpha-diversity, whereas data for ground-cover plants suggested a hump-shaped pattern. Elevation was consistently the most important factor in determining alpha-diversity for all components. The alpha-diversity of ground-cover vegetation was also negatively correlated with leaf area index, which suggests low light conditions in the understorey may limit diversity at lower elevations. Beta-diversity increased with elevation for ground-cover plants and declined at higher elevations for other components of the vegetation. However, statistical power was low and we could not resolve the relative importance to beta-diversity of different factors. Multivariate GLMs of variation in community composition among plots explained 67.05%, 27.63%, 18.24%, and 19.80% of the variation (deviance) for ground-cover, understorey, subcanopy and canopy plants, respectively, and demonstrated that elevation was a consistently important factor in determining community composition. Above-ground biomass showed no significant pattern with elevation and was also not significantly associated with alpha-diversity. At lower elevations communities had a random phylogenetic structure, but from 1600 m communities were phylogenetically clustered. This suggests a greater role of environmental filtering at higher elevations, and thus provides a possible explanation for the observed decline in diversity with elevation
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