Pattern of Plant Community Distribution along the Elevational Gradient and Anthropogenic Disturbance in Gole Forest, Ethiopia
International Journal of Ecology
Vegetation-environment relationships are usually studied along elevational gradient. The patterns of plant community distribution in Gole forest, Ethiopia, were studied along elevational gradient and disturbances. Disturbances were recorded following the elevational gradient. For vegetation data collection, 62 sample plots of size 20 × 20 m were established along an elevational gradient (2728–3480 m.a.s.l). Data on species composition and environmental variables were measured and recorded in
... and recorded in each plot. The elevation of each sample plot was measured using Garmin GPS. Anthropogenic disturbances in each plot were estimated using the following scales: 0 = no disturbance, 1 = slightly disturbed, 2 = moderately disturbed, and 3 = highly disturbed. R statistical package was used for cluster and ordination analysis. Boxplots and analysis of variance were used to assess the relationships between plant communities and environmental variables. Sorensen's similarity coefficient was used to detect similarities and dissimilarities among communities. A total of 114 plant species belonging to 57 families and 94 genera were identified. Five plant community types were identified using agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis. Every plant community had differences in composition and environmental variables. The variation in plant community distributions was significantly related to elevation and disturbance. Plant community distribution was negatively correlated with elevation ( P < 0.05 ) and also with disturbance ( P < 0.05 ). Sorensen's similarity index showed that there was a difference in the distribution of plant species composition among the communities. The difference in plant community distribution of Gole forest was significantly related to elevation. Disturbances also have a considerable influence on the plant communities and mitigation of disturbance should be the main measure that needs to be taken into account in conservation planning in the study area.