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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

versión On-line ISSN 0718-686X


VETTESE, Evangelina S. et al. Diversity of vascular plants in continuous and relictual forests of Nothofagus antarctica (Nothofagaceae) in southern Patagonia. Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) [online]. 2019, vol.47, n.1, pp.31-53. ISSN 0718-686X.

The history of Nothofagus antarctica forests in Santa Cruz is associated with significant geological and climatic disturbances. More recently, anthropic disturbances contributed to habitat fragmentation process. In the forest-steppe ecotone N. antarctica forms small forests inserted in a steppe matrix and separated from the Andean forests that are found towards the West forming continuous forest mass. Five localities of Santa Cruz were surveyed in order to study the patterns of diversity of vascular plants comparatively between relictual forests (R) and their surrounding continuous forests (A). The localities are located in a wide latitudinal gradient (47° 4’- 51° 5’ S) and experience different histories of use. The alpha and beta components of the diversity were linked to other environmental variables through a multivariate redundancy analysis (RDA). A total of 152 species were registered. The alpha diversity was evaluated using the Shannon-Wiener Index (H’). There was no significant differences (p = 0.585) between environments A and R. However, when comparing the sites the differences were significant (p <0.0001). The highest H values were recorded in the northern site, while the lowest H’ values occurred in southern site. The components analysis of global beta diversity (B ) showed lower values in the northern and southern extreme locations. In addition, while in the most austral site the component of species differentiation by nesting (Bnes) was more relevant, in the other evaluated sites the turnover component (Bsim) was predominant. The RDA shows that there is a close relationship between environmental characteristics (soil and climate) and species composition. It also shows that mean temperature is the main factor that relates localities of low similarity to each other (1 and 5). While the higher nutrient content in the soil is related to the intermediate localities (2, 3 and 4). We concluded that the latitudinal gradient had strong influences on the diversity of the understory community of N. antarctica forests. Furthermore, the intensity of the historical use of the forests can be related to a greater decrease in the vascular plant richness in relicts compared to the surrounding continuous forests. This denotes a greater sensitivity of relicts to anthropogenic disturbances and the need of an adequate conservation action.

Palabras clave : understory; biodiversity indeces; ecotone; environmental gradients; anthropic uses.

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