Landscape variation of liana communities in a Neotropical rain forest
We studied local and landscape variation of liana communities across habitats differing in soil and topography in the Lacandon tropical rain forest, southeast Mexico. All liana stems greater than or equal to1 cm diameter breast height (DBH) were sampled within each one of eight 0.5 ha plots. Two plots were sampled in each of the following habitats: alluvial-terrace, flood plain, low-hill, and karst-range. In the whole sampled area, we recorded 2092 liana stems ha(-1) representing a total basal area of 1.95 m(2) ha(-1) and 90 species within 34 families. Lianas showed a strong clumped spatial pattern and a high taxonomic diversity at the scale of 50 m(2). On average (+/- s.e.), we found 10.4 +/- 0.6 stems, 4.4 +/- 0.2 species and 3.4 +/- 0.2 families per 50-m(2) quadrat. Bignonaceae (19 species), Malpighiaceae (9), and Fabaceae (8) comprised about 40% of total number of recorded species, and almost 50% of the total liana biomass, as expressed by an importance value index that combines species relative abundance, spatial frequency and basal area. Nineteen families (56%) were represented by just one species and Cydista (Bignoniaceae) and Machaerium (Fabaceae) were the most diverse genera with four species each. In the landscape, lianas showed a geometric diversity-dominance relationship with only three species (Combretum argenteum, Hiraea fagifolia and Machaerium floribundum) accounting for more than 50% of total biomass. More than 30% of the species were rare (<15 stems ha(-1)) and showed low spatial frequency (recorded in just one of the eight plots). Liana communities differed in structure and composition among sites and habitats. Among sites, lianas exhibited four-fold variation both in stem density and basal area and two-fold variation in species richness. Liana density was significantly and positively correlated with treefall disturbance. Ordination analysis indicated a strong habitat differentiation of lianas at the family and species levels. Most species with non-random distribution among habitats (69% from 25 species) were significantly most abundant in low-hill or flood plain sites, and some (12%) were preferentially found at the karst-range sites. The karst-range habitat was well differentiated from the others in species composition and structure, and shared only 50% of common species with other habitats.