The diversity and distribution of lianas in the Afromontane rain forests of Ethiopia

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Diversity and Distributions


The diversity and distribution of lianas were studied in five Afromontane rain forests of Ethiopia. Quadrats of 20×20 m were laid down along transects in the Bonga, Berhane-Kontir, Harenna, Yayu and Maji forests. In all forests, 30 917 liana individuals belonging to 123 species in 87 genera and 40 plant families were recorded. The most species-rich families were Asclepiadaceae (14), Fabaceae (9), Annonaceae (7) and Cucurbitaceae (7). The top 10 dominant families represented 56% of the total number of species. Over 400 other plant species representing different life forms were recorded growing together with lianas. The lianas accounted for over 30% of the total woody plant diversity and over 20% of the total floral diversity in the study areas. The analysis of floristic composition of the forests indicates that the Berhane-Kontir Forest had the highest Fisher's diversity index α, and Yayu the lowest. Generally, there were low similarities between the forests in terms of species composition. Although lianas were abundant in almost all forests, there was a considerable variation among the forests in terms of density and spatial distribution. The major dispersal modes of lianas were anemochory (30%), mammaliochory (30%), ornithochory and autochory, and the four mechanisms of climbing of lianas were twining (54%), hooking (24%), rooting and use of tendrils. Altitude and human disturbance were found to be important factors affecting liana distribution. The need for sustainable management and use of lianas in the Afromontane rain forests is emphasized.