Effects of Land-Use Change on Under Storey Species Composition and Distribution in a Tropical Rainforest
The forest land’s conversion into tree crops plantations plays a major role in the loss of biodiversity. Therefore, understanding the impacts of land-use change on species diversity is very critical for ecosystem functioning and stability. This study was carried out to evaluate the effect of land-use changes on under storey species diversity in the Theobroma cacao and Citrus sinensis plantations. Two, 25 m × 25 m plots were sampled in each plantation and a nearby undisturbed secondary rainforest for comparison. The diameters (dbh-1.3 m) of all trees at breast height >10 cm were measured in each plot. Five line transect were systematically laid and a quadrat of 50 cm × 50 cm placed at every 1 m point to identify the under storey species (herbaceous, shrubs, tree saplings and climbers) present in each plot. Percentage canopy, species diversity using Shannon-Wiener, Simpson’s index and Evenness were determined, while species similarity was determined using the Jaccard’s similarity index. Results indicate that woody basal area and stem density in Theobroma cacao were significantly (P<0.05) higher than the Citrus sinensis plantation. A total number of 25, 27, and 14 under storey species distributed in 16, 19 and 11 families were found in Theobroma cacao, Citrus sinensis plantations and secondary forest respectively. Panicum maximum and Axonopus compressus were the dominant grasses in the Theobroma cacao and Citrus sinensis plantations respectively. The percentage canopy cover was significantly (P<0.05) higher in the secondary forest than the plantations. The land use modification has significantly increased the under storey species composition.
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