Vertical and horizontal vegetation structure across natural and modified habitat types at Mount Kilimanjaro

In most habitats, vegetation provides the main structure of the environment. This complexity can facilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services. Therefore, measures of vegetation structure can serve as indicators in ecos
In most habitats, vegetation provides the main structure of the environment. This complexity can facilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services. Therefore, measures of vegetation structure can serve as indicators in ecosystem management. However, many structural measures are laborious and require expert knowledge. Here, we used consistent and convenient measures to assess vegetation structure over an exceptionally broad elevation gradient of 866–4550m above sea level at Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Additionally, we compared (human)-modified habitats, including maize fields, traditionally managed home gardens, grasslands, commercial coffee farms and logged and burned forests with natural habitats along this elevation gradient. We distinguished vertical and horizontal vegetation structure to account for habitat complexity and heterogeneity. Vertical vegetation structure (assessed as number, width and density of vegetation layers, maximum canopy height, leaf area index and vegetation cover) displayed a unimodal elevation pattern, peaking at intermediate elevations in montane forests, whereas horizontal structure (assessed as coefficient of variation of number, width and density of vegetation layers, maximum canopy height, leaf area index and vegetation cover) was lowest at intermediate altitudes. Overall, vertical structure was consistently lower in modified than in natural habitat types, whereas horizontal structure was inconsistently different in modified than in natural habitat types, depending on the specific structural measure and habitat type. Our study shows how vertical and horizontal vegetation structure can be assessed efficiently in various habitat types in tropical mountain regions, and we suggest to apply this as a tool for informing future biodiversity and ecosystem service studies.
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Metadaten
Author:Gemma Rutten, Andreas Ensslin, Andreas Hemp, Markus Fischer
URN:urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:3-390426
DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138822
ISSN:1932-6203
Parent Title (English):PLoS One
Publisher:PLoS
Place of publication:Lawrence, Kan.
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of Publication (online):2015/09/25
Date of first Publication:2015/09/25
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/02/04
Volume:10
Issue:(9): e0138822
Pagenumber:15
First Page:1
Last Page:15
Note:
Copyright: © 2015 Rutten et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
HeBIS PPN:375961445
Institutes:Biowissenschaften
Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Universitätspublikationen
Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0

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