Native understory palms (Arecaceae) of the Atlantic Forest in Santa Catarina, Southern Brazil
Abstract In this study, we examined the distribution and conservation status of understory palms in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina using data collected by the Floristic and Forest Inventory of Santa Catarina (IFFSC). Understory palms were systematically sampled within sampling units (SU) distributed over a state-wide 10 × 10 km grid. Among the 206 total SU monitored by IFFSC within Pluvial and Coastal Forest, 86% (n=177 SU) contained understory palms, comprising 1738 individuals from the following species: Bactris setosa, Geonoma elegans, G. gamiova, and G. schottiana. To explore the conservation status of understory palm populations in Santa Catarina, we overlaid a map of federal priority conservation areas on top of IFFSC distribution data for understory palms. Conservation priority levels defined by the Brazilian Environmental Agency (MMA) are rated Extremely High, Very High, High and Insufficiently Known. Ninety-four percent of the SU containing understory palms overlapped priority conservation areas, highlighting the centrality of understory palms in biodiversity conservation. Despite the wide distribution of understory palm communities in Santa Catarina, intense scrutiny of forest remnants is necessary in view of sensitivity to environmental disturbance, so as to guarantee the maintenance of understory palm populations and their ecosystem services.