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Johanna I. Murillo-Pacheco; Matthias Rös; Federico Escobar; Francisco Castro-Lima; José R. Verdú; Germán M. López-Iborra (2016)
Publisher: PeerJ Inc.
Journal: PeerJ
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Ecosystem Science, Biodiversity, Woody and aquatic plants, Ecología, Medicine, Compositional similarity, Zoología, Archipelago reserve, Meta Piedmont forest, Hill numbers, Ecology, R, Wetland type and origin, Plant Science, Conservation Biology
Accelerated degradation of the wetlands and fragmentation of surrounding vegetation in the Andean–Orinoco Piedmont are the main threats to diversity and ecological integrity of these ecosystems; however, information on this topic is of limited availability. In this region, we evaluated the value of 37 lentic wetlands as reservoirs of woody and aquatic plants and analyzed diversity and changes in species composition within and among groups defined according to management given by: (1) type (swamps, heronries, rice fields, semi-natural lakes, constructed lakes and fish farms) and (2) origins (natural, mixed and artificial). A total of 506 plant species were recorded: 80% woody and 20% aquatic. Of these, 411 species (81%) were considered species typical of the area (Meta Piedmont distribution). Diversity patterns seem to be driven by high landscape heterogeneity and wetland management. The fish farms presented the highest diversity of woody plants, while swamps ranked highest for aquatic plant diversity. Regarding wetland origin, the artificial systems were the most diverse, but natural wetlands presented the highest diversity of typical species and can therefore be considered representative ecosystems at the regional scale. Our results suggest that lentic wetlands act as refuges for native vegetation of Meta Piedmont forest, hosting 55% of the woody of Piedmont species and 29% of the aquatic species of Orinoco basin. The wetlands showed a high species turnover and the results indicated that small wetlands (mean ± SD: size = 11 ± 18.7 ha), with a small area of surrounding forest (10 ± 8.6 ha) supported high local and regional plant diversity. To ensure long-term conservation of lentic wetlands, it is necessary to develop management and conservation strategies that take both natural and created wetlands into account. This research was supported by JMP fellowships funded by Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (COLCIENCIAS) through its Créditos Condonables para Estudios de Doctorado en el Exterior program (512/2010) and Fundación Carolina-Colfuturo (2008) JMP also was supported by International Council for Canadian studies (2012) and Alianza Pacifico—AMEXCID (2015) to research fellowship. The funding for fieldwork was obtained from Ramsar Convention (WWF/09/CO/5), Corporación KOTSALA and equipment was sponsored by IdeaWild (2014).

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