The composition and diversity of Cerrado were evaluated in three different sites in eastern Mato Grosso do Sul, one of the most threatened and poorly studied areas in the Brazilian Cerrado. Vascular species were surveyed along trails in different Cerrado physiognomies, with special regard to shrub and tree species. Additionally, in the areas of cerrado sensu stricto 30 plots of 10×3 m were installed, wherein only woody individuals > 1 m tall were sampled. Overall, 220 species, 150 genera and 65 families of different life forms were surveyed, including species considered as rare in the Brazilian Cerrado and possible new records for the Cerrado of Mato Grosso do Sul. Shrub and tree species richness in the cerrado sensu stricto was high (79-101 species per site). There was a low floristic similarity among sites: only 50 species were common to all of them. The study of the woody vegetation by plots (total of 651 individuals of 105 species) revealed a difference in average richness, diversity (Shannon index) and dominance (Berger-Parker) among the studied sites. In addition, species relative densities and floristic composition were quite variable among sites (similarity from 0.42 to 0.53). These results place the studied sites among the richest areas of cerrado sensu stricto in Brazil, showing that marginal areas of Cerrado can be as rich as their core areas, even by the contribution of floristic elements of other forest formations. The results also reinforce the existence of a high floristic heterogeneity in the Cerrado, even at relatively short distances (≤60 km), which can be triggered by differences between fragments in respect to soil characteristics, disturbance history and proximity to other forest formations.
Phytosociology; Floristic survey; Species richness