Vascular plant species compositional patterns of the low forest, scrub, and herbaceous vegetation on white sand soils and sandstone substrates were studied at six sandstone plateaus in Colombian Amazonia, by means of a field survey according to the Braun-Blanquet relevé method. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) was applied to separate effects of habitat and spatial configurations of the plateaus on species patterns. Also, information on dispersal ability and phytogeographic affinity of species was used to test explanations for between plateau differences.
Low trees, shrubs and herbs were the main species recorded in 212 relevés. The main gradients in the species patterns were linked to the spatial configuration of the plateaus. Spatially controlled species patterns were mainly related to soil depth and soil organic matter. The association between phytogeographic affinity and the habitat controlled spatial link of species pointed at insufficient sampling at one plateau. Dispersal ability did not explain the habitat controlled spatially distributed occurrences of plant species. This might indicate a low frequency of local extinctions at the sandstone plateaus, especially of the poorly dispersed species, possibly because plant populations survive fire or drought disturbances in local sheltered places. Space and habitat controlled species patterns at one plateau were quite distinct from patterns at the other plateaus. This might be due to unmeasured habitat factors (e.g. unrecorded soil variation or human disturbance history) or the preferential, surveyor biased sampling procedure.
Nomenclature: Arbeláez & Callejas (1999).
Abbreviation: UTM = Universal Transverse Mercator.