Vine species diversity across environmental gradients in northwestern México
Molin Freaner F; Gamez RC; Tinoco-Ojanguren C; Castellanos AE
Biodiversity and Conservation
The presence of vines has been described as a distinctive feature of tropical forests. However vine species diversity exhibits trends across environmental gradients that are not well documented. Here we use a latitudinal and a rainfall gradient along the Pacific slope of México to explore the influence of environmental factors on vine species diversity. A total of 630 vines species were detected on the Pacific slope of México. Tropical deciduous forest (TDF) floras were composed of greater percentages of vines (5–16%) than desert floras (1–3%). Four families (Convolvulaceae Fabaceae Cucurbitaceae and Asclepiadaceae) composed 40–60% of the vines of the region. Changes in vine composition were gradual along the Pacific slope. The percentage of vines in floras declines with latitude. Annual rainfall and the minimum temperature of January were significantly associated with the latitudinal decline in the percentage of vines. A total of 43 species mostly herbaceous vines were detected along a rainfall gradient in northwestern México. Along the rainfall gradient the number of vine species increased from 3 to 28 as summer rainfall plant cover and canopy stature increased. Vine species richness and diversity increased from the desert to the TDF especially along streams. Leaf area (LA) ranged from 0.6 to 284?cm2 and specific leaf area (SLA) from 80 to 904?cm2/g among the most common vine species. Community averages of LA and SLA decreased toward drier sites. These results are discussed within the context of our current knowledge about the role of the environment in limiting the distribution of vines.