Complementary Roles of Home Gardens and Exotic Tree Plantations as Alternative Habitats for Plants of the Ethiopian Montane Rainforest - HYLANDER - 2008 - Conservation Biology - Wiley Online Library

Many tropical forests have been converted to agriculture or silviculture or a combination of both (agroforestry). Conservation at a landscape scale requires an understanding of the distribution and abundance of native biodiversity in these natural ecosystems, of which the knowledge is especially poor for African agroecosystems. We compared species density and species composition of four plant groups (trees and shrubs, epiphytic vascular plants, mosses, and liverworts) among three arboreal land types in southwestern Ethiopia (montane rainforest fragments, shade,Äêtree coffee home gardens, and exotic tree plantations). Species density was significantly higher in forests than in coffee gardens for all plant groups and in exotic tree plantations for all groups except mosses. Home gardens had more vascular epiphytic species than plantations, whereas the reverse was true for mosses and liverworts. The species composition of the forest plots was sometimes more similar to home-based plots than plantation plots and sometimes vice versa. Fifteen forest plots had, however, cumulatively more than one random selection of 15 nonforest (coffee home garden and plantation) plots, even if the 2 plot types complemented each other in terms of habitats for forest plants. Tree plantations dominated by Eucalyptus had many small trees and shrubs in common with forests, whereas plantations with Cupressus were important substrates for forests mosses and liverworts. Our results illustrate the importance of undisturbed forests habitats for conservation of species at a landscape scale and that different humanities of the land may also complement each other in their capacity the additional habitats for forest species.

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