3.2.5 Mangroves and Gallery Forests
Important and typical tropical forests are also mangroves and gallery forests which deserve their own sections in this book (Chap. 7 and Sect. 9.1, respectively).
3.3 Horizontal Structure and Diversity of Tropical Forests
Biodiversity has many facets. The understanding of mechanisms of biodiversity is emerging only gradually, especially for the tropical environment, and there is a variety of hypotheses on diversity. Kratochwil (1998) has formulated and is assessing a set of 30 hypotheses as a basis for the development of a general theory of biodiversity. It is not the place here to develop a systematic account although this would be an attractive task in view of the particularly high diversity in many tropical forests constituting so called diversity hot spots. However, I shall allude to questions of diversity as I move through various aspects of the horizontal structure of tropical forests.
3.3.1 Diversity and the Spatial Structure of the Environment
Considering the various types of forests in Sects. 3.1 and 3.2, diversity of tropical forests has already been alluded to and the high floristic diversity in tropical rainforests has been mentioned (Sect. 3.2.1). This leads to the problem that the minimum quadrats of plant sociology become very large. Minimum quadrats give the smallest possible area in which all species occurring in a habitat are present, as illustrated in Fig. 3.15. Whitmore (1990) has used such species to area diagrams to illustrate the concept of floristic a-, (- and 7-diversity referring to different levels in landscapes (Noss 1983) (Fig. 3.16) as first defined by Whittaker (1975), i.e. by taking the richness of species as given by the number of different species per minimum quadrat:
Cloud Forest, La Carbonera
Rancho Grande all species
Moist Trade Wind Forest Rio Caura
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