Relationship Between Aboveground Biomass and Multiple Measures of Biodiversity in Subtropical Forest of Puerto Rico

Vance-Chalcraft, Heather D.; Willig, Michael R.; Cox, Stephen B.; Lugo, Ariel E.; Scatena, Frederick N. 2010. Relationship between aboveground biomass and multiple measures of biodiversity in subtropical forest of Puerto Rico. Biotropica. 42(3):290-299.

Anthropogenic activities have accelerated the rate of global loss of biodiversity, making it more important than ever to understand the structure of biodiversity hotspots. One current focus is the relationship between species richness and aboveground biomass (AGB) in a variety of ecosystems. Nonetheless, species diversity, evenness, rarity, or dominance represent other critical attributes of biodiversity and may have associations with AGB that are markedly different than that of species richness. Using data from large trees in four environmentally similar sites in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico, we determined the shape and strength of relationships between each of five measures of biodiversity (i.e., species richness, Simpson’s diversity, Simpson’s evenness, rarity, and dominance) and AGB. We quantified these measures of biodiversity using either proportional biomass or proportional abundance as weighting factors. Three of the four sites had a unimodal relationship between species richness and AGB, with only the most mature site evincing a positive, linear relationship. The differences between the mature site and the other sites, as well as the differences between our richness–AGB relationships and those found at other forest sites, highlight the crucial role that prior land use and severe storms have on this forest community. Although the shape and strength of relationships differed greatly among measures of biodiversity and among sites, the strongest relationships within each site were always those involving richness or evenness.