Print version ISSN 0103-9016
GUILHERME, Frederico Augusto Guimarães et al. Soil profile, relief features and their relation to structure and distribution of Brazilian Atlantic rain forest trees. Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.) [online]. 2012, vol.69, n.1, pp. 61-69. ISSN 0103-9016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-90162012000100009.
In tropical forests, the environmental heterogeneity can provide niche partitioning at local scales and determine the diversity and plant species distribution. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the variations of tree species structure and distribution in response to relief and soil profile features in a portion of the largest remnant of Brazilian Atlantic rain forest. All trees ³ 5 cm diameter at breast height were recorded in two 0.99 ha plots. Topographic survey and a soil characterization were accomplished in both plots. Topsoil samples (0-20 cm) were taken from 88 quadrats and analyzed for chemical and particle size properties. Differences for both diversity and tree density were identified among three kinds of soils. A canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) indicated that the specific abundance varied among the three kinds of soils mapped: a shallow Udept - Orthent / Aquent gradient, probably due to differences in soil drainage. Nutrient content was less likely to affect tree species composition and distribution than relief, pH, Al3+, and soil texture. Some species were randomly distributed and did not show restriction to relief and soil properties. However, preferences in niche occupation detected in this study, derived from the catenary environments found, rise up as an important explanation for the high tree species diversity in tropical forests.
Keywords : tropical rain forest; catena; tree diversity; niche partitioning; tropical soils.