Forested riparian belts as reservoirs of plant species in fragmented landscapes of tropical mountain cloud forest

Keywords: American sycamore, biodiversity reservoirs, forest fragmentation, riparian corridor


Background: Cloud forest in central Veracruz is highly fragmented. However, different arboreal elements are still present within the agricultural matrix, including small patches of secondary forest, isolated trees and forested riparian belts. These elements could be important for cloud forest species conservation.

Questions: What is the structure and composition of forested riparian belts within current anthropic landscapes, and what is their potential contribution as reservoirs of mountain cloud forest native plant species?

Studied species: Vegetation community of forested riparian belts of cloud forest.

Study site and dates: Eastern Mexico (central Veracruz), January to November 2018

Methods: Along 14 segments of riparian belts (≈400 m long), distributed across different tributary streams, six 50 × 2 m transects were placed (three per riverside) per segment. Every plant rooted within a transect and ≥ 1.5 m in height was identified and measured (height and DBH).

Results: A total of 2,062 plants from 161 species, 102 genera and 55 families were recorded in the 14 sites (8,400 m² sampled). Structural attributes and floristic composition varied widely amongst sites. Elevation and the amount of forest cover (i.e., area) within 500 m of each sampling site were the most important factors underlying the spatial variation in species composition.

Conclusions: Riparian belts were remarkably heterogeneous harboring a notable richness of tree and shrub species many of them native of the original cloud forest. This diversity reveals that these arboreal elements are keystone structures for biodiversity conservation and also have a high potential as propagule sources for cloud forest restoration in anthropic landscapes.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Omar Hernández-Dávila, Instituto de Ecología AC

Red de Ecología Funcional

Javier Laborde, Instituto de Ecología AC

Red Ecológica Funcionañ

Vinicio J Sosa, Instituto de Ecología AC

Red de Ecología Funcional

Claudia Gallardo-Hernández, Instituto de Ecología AC

Red de Ecología Funcional


Cecilia Díaz-Castelazo, Instituto de Ecología AC

Red de interacciones multitróficas

Forested riparian belts as reservoirs of plant species in fragmented landscapes of tropical mountain cloud forest


Alcántara-Ayala O, & Luna VI. 2001. Análisis florístico de dos áreas con bosque mesófilo de montaña en el estado de Hidalgo, México: Eloxochitlán y Tlahuelompa. Acta Botanica Mexicana 54: 51–87.
Aldrich M, Bubb P, Hostettler S, & van de Wiel H. 2000. Bosque nublados tropicales montanos. WWF International/IUCN The World Conservation Union. ISBN: 2-88085-245-5
Bruijnzeel LA, Scatena FN, & Hamilton LS. 2011. Tropical montane cloud forests. Science for conservation and management (International Hydrology Series). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780511778384
Chao A, Gotelli NJ, Hsieh TC, Sander EL, Ma KH, Colwell RK, & Ellison AM. 2014. Rarefaction and extrapolation with Hill numbers: A framework for sampling and estimation in species diversity studies. Ecological Monographs 84: 45–67. DOI:
Flora de Veracruz: accessed in July 2019. Instituto de Ecología, A.C. & CITRO-UV. ISSN 0187-425-X
Flores-Palacios A, & García-Franco JG. 2008. Habitat isolation changes the beta diversity of the vascular epiphyte community in lower montane forest, Veracruz, Mexico. Biodiversity and Conservation 17: 191–207. DOI:
García-Franco J, Castillo-Campos G, Mehltreter K, Martínez ML, & Vázquez G. 2008. Composición florística de un bosque mesófilo del centro de Veracruz, México. Boletín de La Sociedad Botánica de México 83: 37–52. DOI:
Gentry AH. 1982. Patterns of neotropical plant species diversity. In: Hecht MK, Bruce W, & Prance GT, eds. Evolutionary Biology. New York. pp. 1-80. DOI:
González-Espinosa M, Meave J, Lorea-Hernández FG, Ibarra-Manríquez G, & Newton AC. 2011. The red list of Mexican cloud forest trees. Cambridge, UK.: Fauna & Flora International. ISBN: 9781903703281
Granados-Sánchez D, Hernández-García MÁ, & López-Ríos GF. 2006. Ecología de las zonas ribereñas. Revista Chapingo. Serie Ciencias Forestales y Del Ambiente 12, 55–69.
Gual-Díaz M, & Rendón-Correa A. 2014. Bosques mesófilos de montaña de México: diversidad, ecología y manejo. México, DF: Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. ISBN: 978-607-8328-07-9
Hamilton LS. Juvik JO, & Scatena FN. 1994. Tropical Montane Cloud Forestas. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN: 13:978-1-4612-7564-0
Hsieh TC, Ma KH, & Chao A. 2016. iNEXT: an R package for rarefaction and extrapolation of species diversity (Hill numbers). Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7: 1451–1456. DOI:
Johnson RR, & Jones DA. 1977. Importance, preservation and management of riparian habitat: A symposium. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-43. Tucson, Arizona: USDA Forest Service
Jost L, Chao A, & Chazdon RL. 2011. Compositional similarity and beta diversity. In: Magurran A, McGill B, eds. Biological Diversity: Frontiers in Measurement and Assessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 66–84. ISBN: 978-0-19-958066-8
Lees AC, & Peres CA. 2008. Conservation value of remnant riparian forest corridors of varying quality for Amazonian birds and mammals. Conservation Biology 22: 439–449. DOI:
Mayorga SR, Luna VI, & Alcántara-Ayala O. 1998. Florística del bosque mesófilo de montaña de Molocotlán, Molango-Xochicoatlán, Hidalgo, México. Boletín de La Sociedad Botánica de México 63: 101–119. DOI:
Muñiz-Castro MA, Williams-Linera G, & Martínez-Ramos M. 2012. Dispersal mode, shade tolerance, and phytogeographical affinity of tree species during secondary succession in tropical montane cloud forest. Plant Ecology 213: 339–353. DOI:
Muñoz-Villers LE, & López-Blanco J. 2008. Land use/cover changes using Landsat TM/ETM images in a tropical and biodiverse mountainous area of central-eastern Mexico. International Journal of Remote Sensing 29: 71–93. DOI:
Nadkarni NM, & Wheelwright NT. 2000. Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 13 978-0-19-509560-9
Naiman RJ, Decamps H, & Pollock M. 1993. The role of riparian corridors in maintaining regional biodiversity. Ecological Applications 3: 209–212. DOI:
Nur N, Ballard G, & Geupel GR. 2008. Regional analysis of riparian bird species response to vegetation and local habitat features. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 120: 840–855. DOI:
Oksanen J, et al. (2019). Package Vegan vers. 2.5 Community Ecology Package. In: (accessed in June 2019)
Pardini R, De Souza SM, Braga-Neto R, & Metzger JP. 2005. The role of forest structure, fragment size and corridors in maintaining small mammal abundance and diversity in an Atlantic forest landscape. Biological Conservation 124: 253–266. DOI:
Ponce-Reyes R, Reynoso-Rosales VH, Watson JEM, Vanderwal J, Fuller RA, Pressey RL, & Possingham HP. 2012. Vulnerability of cloud forest reserves in Mexico to climate change. Nature Climate Change 2: 448–452. DOI:
R Core Team. 2017. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL
Rodríguez-Mendoza C, & Pineda E. 2010. Importance of riparian remnants for frog species diversity in a highly fragmented rainforest. Conservation Biology 6: 781–784. DOI:
Ruiz-Jiménez CA, Téllez-Valdés O, & Luna-Vega I. 2012. Clasificación de los bosques mesófilos de montaña de México: afinidades de la flora. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 83: 1110–1144. DOI:
Rzedowski, J. 1996. Análisis preliminar de la flora vascular de los bosques mesófilos de montaña de México. Acta Botanica Mexicana 35: 25–44. DOI:
Toledo-Aceves T, García-Franco J, Williams-Linera G, MacMillan K, & Gallardo-Hernández C. 2014. Significance of remnant cloud forest fragments as reservoirs of tree and epiphytic bromeliad diversity. Tropical Conservation Science 7: 230–243. DOI:
TROPICOS. 2019. Missouri Botanical Garden. 03 May 2019
Valencia S, & Gual-Díaz M. 2014. La familia Fagaceae en el bosque mesófilo de montaña de México. Botanical Sciences 92: 193–204. DOI:
Villaseñor JL. 2010. El bosque húmedo de montaña en México y sus plantas vasculares: catálogo florístico-taxonómico. México, D. F.: Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. ISBN: 978-607-02-1557-5
Villaseñor JL, & Ortiz E. 2017. El bosque húmedo de montaña en el estado de Veracruz, México. Agroproductividad, 10: 19–23
Williams-Linera G. 2002. Tree species richness complementarity, disturbance and fragmentation in a Mexican tropical montane cloud forest. Biodiversity and Conservation 11: 1825–1843. DOI:
Williams-Linera G. 2012. El bosque de niebla del centro de Veracruz. Xalapa, Veracruz, México: CONABIO - Instituto de Ecología, A. C. ISBN: 970-709-101-0
Williams-Linera G, Toledo-Garibaldi M, & Gallardo-Hernández C. 2013. How heterogeneous are the cloud forest communities in the mountains of central Veracruz, Mexico? Plant Ecology 214: 685–701. DOI:
How to Cite
Hernández-Dávila, O., Laborde, J., Sosa, V. J., Gallardo-Hernández, C., & Díaz-Castelazo, C. (2020). Forested riparian belts as reservoirs of plant species in fragmented landscapes of tropical mountain cloud forest. Botanical Sciences, 98(2), 288-304.