Floristic structure and composition of Guadua forests in the Colombian coffee region1

ABSTRACT In the coffee region (900-2,000 m a.s.l.) of the Colombian Andes, the forest remnants correspond mainly to fragments dominated by the bamboo species Guadua angustifolia Kunth (Guadua). These highly fragmented forests are found in landscapes with a high degree of transformation due to the agricultural activity and urban expansion. With the purpose of contributing to the knowledge of the ecological characteristics of these forests, the floristic structure and composition (alpha, beta and gamma diversity) of seven forest fragments located in the middle (Quindío) and lower basins of the La Vieja river (Risaralda) were studied. A total of 70,961 individuals and 172 species belonging to 54 families were found. Fifty percent of the families were represented by only one species, and the families Araceae and Leguminosae showed the highest taxonomic richness, respectively with 21 and 14 species. The diversity indices for these forests revealed values comparable to those of tropical forest ecosystems (Shannon-Weiner values between 3,167 and 3,798). Likewise, the cluster analysis (based on Euclidean distances) showed that the stands present a similarity below 0.65 (65 %), associated with the 35 species reported, in seven fragments that characterize a varied floristic composition. This finding implies that these fragments should not be seen as isolated units, but as sites embedded in a diverse regional landscape. This represents important habitats for these species, which are capable of maintaining significant levels of diversity, even under management conditions.