Plant Community Diversity Relative to Human Land Uses In an Amazon Forest Colony.

TitlePlant Community Diversity Relative to Human Land Uses In an Amazon Forest Colony.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFujisaka S, Escobar G, Veneklaas E
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Keywordscrop, Pasture, slash-and-burn, tropical forest, useful plants
AbstractWe examined numbers of plant species and individuals relative to land use in an agricultural settlement in the Brazilian Amazon. Land uses were forest, cropped after forest, fallows, cropped after fallow, and pasture. These corresponded roughly to farmers'' land-use changes over time. Numbers of species and diversity indices were generally highest in forest, but we found quite similar values in older fallows as a result of both survival/re-establishment of forest species and emergence of plants not encountered in forest. The dominant species in fallows, however, were different from those in forest. Lands cropped using slash-and-burn maintained moderate numbers of species–both forest and non-forest. Trends in plant density (individuals per unit ground area) on cropped lands were mainly related to invasion of weedy species (increasing in time after slash-and-burn) and shifts in crop species (replacement of small-sized rice by larger-sized maize and cassava). Useful forest plants (e.g. for construction purposes, food and medicines) decreased with land conversion, although new species also appeared. The fewest species, tree species, and useful plants, and the greatest losses of the forest flora, were encountered in pastures. Consequently, conversion to pasture rather than slash-and-burn agriculture per se led to high biodiversity loss.