Nowhere to escape – Diversity and community composition of ferns and lycophytes on the highest mountain in Honduras

Johan Reyes-Chávez, Megan Quail, Stephanie Tarvin, Michael Kessler, SVEN BATKE

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Abstract

IPCC predictions for Honduras indicate that temperature will increase by up to 3-6˚C and precipitation will decrease by up to 7-13% by the year 2050. To better understand how fern and lycophyte communities might be affected by climate change, we comprehensively surveyed the community compositions of ferns and lycophytes at Celaque National Park, the highest mountain in Honduras. We surveyed a total of 80 20x20m2 plots along an altitudinal gradient of 1249-2844m a.s.l., identifying all species and estimating their abundances. We recorded a total of 11,098 individuals from 160 species and 61 genera. Community
composition was strongly influenced by changes in altitude, precipitation, and the abundance of bryophytes (a proxy for air humidity). Of the 160 species, 63 are expected, under a RCP2.6 scenario for the year 2050, to shift their range fully or partially above the maximum altitude of the mountain. Of these, 65.1% are epiphytes. We found that species with narrow altitudinal ranges at high altitudes were more at risk. Our study indicated that conservation efforts should prioritise higher altitudinal sites; focusing particularly on preserving the vulnerable epiphytic fern
species, which are likely to be at greater risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Early online date22 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Altitudinal gradients
  • Celaque
  • Central America
  • Climate change
  • Cloud forest
  • Epiphytes
  • Mid-elevation peak
  • Species Richness

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