Taxonomic Diversity and Taxonomic Dominance: The Example of Forest Plantations in South-Central Chile


The study describes an analysis of the impact of plantation forestry on the taxonomic diversity of plants in south-central Chile. In this biodiversity hotspot, plantations of non-native species like Pinus radiata D. Don, Eucalyptus globules Labill. and Populus nigra L. have largely replaced native deciduous and sclerophyllous forests. The study compares taxonomic diversity of commercial plantations and native forests using taxonomic distinctness and diversity and the Simpson diversity index. Most of these indexes attest a considerably reduced taxonomic diversity to plantations. However, taxonomic distinctness values for P. radiata plantations seem to contradict other indexes at first glance. It is shown that the higher values of taxonomic distinctness of P. radiata plantations come from taxonomic dominance. Taxonomic dominance describes the fact that P. radiate—a member of the infradivison of Gymnospermae-bears only little taxonomic resemblance to other plants, which are Angiospermae. Thus, it strongly dominates the taxonomic distinctness index and the high taxonomic resemblance of other plant within its plots is neglected. Indexes are developed that identify such dominant species and adjust for taxonomic dominance in taxonomic diversity analyses. After this adjustment, all indexes provide a coherent image on taxonomic diversity. Plantation forestry produces a considerable decline of taxonomic diversity. Taxonomic diversity analysis provides valuable insights in biodiversity impacts and complements standard analyses.

Share and Cite:

Braun, A. (2015) Taxonomic Diversity and Taxonomic Dominance: The Example of Forest Plantations in South-Central Chile. Open Journal of Ecology, 5, 199-212. doi: 10.4236/oje.2015.55017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Echeverria, C., Coomes, D., Salas, J., Rey Benayas, J., Lara, A. and Newton, A. (2006) Rapid Deforestation and Fragmentation of Chilean Temperate Forests. Biological Conservation, 130, 481-494.
[2] Smith Ramirez, C. (2004) The Chilean Coastal Range: A Vanishing Center of Biodiversity and Endemism in South American Temperate Rainforests. Biodiversity and Conservation, 13, 373-393.
[3] Grez, A., Bustamante, R., Simonetti, J., Fahrig, L., Salinas Chaves, E. and Middleton, J. (1998) Landscape Ecology, Deforestation, and Forest Fragmentation: The Case of the Ruil Forest in Chile. In: Grez, A., Bustamante, R.O., Simonetti, J.A., Fahrig, L., Salinas-Chaves, E. and Middleton, J., Eds., Landscape Ecology as a Tool for Sustainable Development in Latin America, Editorial Universitaria, Santiago de Chile, 1-26.
[4] Altamirano, A. and Lara, A. (2010) Deforestation in Temperate Ecosystems of Pre-Andean Range of South-Central Chile. Bosque, 31, 53-64.
[5] Nahuelhual, L., Carmona, A., Lara, A., Echeverria, C. and Gonzalez, M. (2012) Landcover Change to Forest Plantations: Proximate Causes and Implications for the Landscape in South-Central Chile. Landscape and Urban Planning, 107, 12-20.
[6] Altieri, M. and Rojas, A. (1999) Ecological Impacts of Chile’s Neoliberal Policies, with Special Emphasis on Agroecosystems. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 1, 55-72.
[7] Clapp, R. (1995) Creating Competitive Advantage: Forest Policy as Industrial Policy in Chile. Economic Geography, 71, 273-296.
[8] Braun, A.C., Rojas, C., Echeverria, C., Rottensteiner, F., B?hr, H. P., Niemeyer, J., Aguayo Arias, M., Kosov, S., Hinz, S. and Weidner, U. (2014) Design of a Spectral-Spatial Pattern Recognition Framework for Risk Assessments Using Landsat Data—A Case Study in Chile. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 7, 917-928.
[9] Clapp, R. (1995) The Unnatural History of the Monterey Pine. Geographical Review, 85, 1-19.
[10] Camus, P. and Hajek, E. (1998) Historia ambiental de Chile. Departamento de Ecologia, Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.
[11] Camus, P. (2003) Federico Albert: Artifice de la Gestion de los Bosques de Chile. Revista de Geografia Norte Grande, 30, 55-63.
[12] Bustamante, R.O. and Castor, C. (1998) The Decline of an Endangered Temperate Ecosystem: The Ruil (Nothofagus alessandrii) Forest in Central Chile. Biodiversity & Conservation, 7, 1607-1626.
[13] Cisternas, M., Martinez, P., Oyarzun, C. and Debels, P. (1999) Characterization of the Replacement Processes of Native Vegetation by Forest Plantations in a Lacustrine Watershed in the Nahuelbuta Mountain Range, VIII Region, Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 72, 661-670.
[14] Wilson, K., Newton, A., Echeverria, C., Weston, C. and Burgman, M. (2005) A Vulnerability Analysis of the Temperate Forests of South Central Chile. Biological Conservation, 122, 9-21.
[15] Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A.B. and Kent, J. (2000) Biodiversity Hotspots for Conservation Priorities. Nature, 403, 853-858.
[16] Braun, A.C. and Vogt, J. (2014) A Multiscale Assessment of the Risks Imposed by Plantation Forestry on Plant Biodiversity in the Hotspot Central Chile. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 1025.
[17] Myers, N. (2003) Biodiversity Hotspots Revisited. BioScience, 53, 916-917.
[18] Warwick, R.M. and Clarke, K.R. (2003) Taxonomic Distinctness and Environmental Assessment. Journal of Applied Ecology, 35, 532-543.
[19] Peel, M.C., Finlayson, B.L. and McMahon, T.A. (2007) Updated World Map of the K?ppen-Geiger Climate Classification. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 4, 439-473.
[20] Veit, H. and Garleff, K. (1995) Evolución del paisaje cuaternario y los suelos en Chile central-sur. In: Armesto, J., Villagrán, C. and Arroyo, M., Eds., Ecología de los bosques nativos de Chile, Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, 363-387.
[21] Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas, Compendio Estadistico, 2012.
[22] Aronson, J., Del Pozo, A., Ovalle, C., Avendano, J., Lavin, A. and Etienne, M. (1998) Land Use Changes and Conflicts in Central Chile. In: Rundel, P.W., Montenegro, G. and Jaksic, F., Eds., Landscape Disturbance and Biodiversity in Mediterranean-Type Ecosystem, Springer Verlag, Berlin, 155-168.
[23] Ovalle, C., Aronson, J., Del Pozo, A. and Avendano, J. (1990) The Espinal: Agroforestry Systems of the Mediterranean-Type Climate Region of Chile. Agroforestry Systems, 10, 213-239.
[24] Holmgren, M., Avilés, R., Sierralta, L., Segura, A.M. and Fuentes, E.R. (2000) Why Have European Herbs So Successfully Invaded the Chilean Matorral? Effects of Herbivory, Soil Nutrients, and Fire. Journal of Arid Environments, 44, 197-211.
[25] Ministerio De Agricultura, Decreto Ley 701. fija Regimen Legal de los Terrenos Forestales o Preferenmente Aptos para la Forestacion, y Establece Normas de Fomento sobre la Materia, 1974.
[26] Toro, J. and Gessel, S. (1999) Radiata Pine Plantations in Chile. New Forests, 18, 33-44.
[27] Corley, J., Sackmann, P., Rusch, V., Bettinelli, J. and Paritsis, J. (2006) Effects of Pine Silviculture on the Ant Assemblages (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Patagonian Steppe. Forest Ecology and Management, 222, 162-166.
[28] Paritsis, J. and Aizen, M.A. (2008) Effects of Exotic Conifer Plantations on the Biodiversity of Understory Plants, Epigeal Beetles and Birds in Nothofagus dombeyi Forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 255, 1575-1583.
[29] Luebert, F. and Pliscoff, P. (2006) Sinopsis bioclimatica y vegetacional de Chile. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago.
[30] Amigo, J., San Martin, J. and Garcia, L. (2000) Estudio fitosociológico de los bosques de Nothofagus glauca (Phil.) Krasser del Centro-Sur de Chile. Phytocoenología, 32, 193-221.
[31] Hildebrand-Vogel, R. (2002) Structure and Dynamics of Southern Chilean Natural Forests with Special Reference to the Relation of Evergreen versus Deciduous Elements. Folia Geobotanica, 37, 107-128.
[32] Donoso, C. (1982) Resena ecologica de los bosques mediterraneos de Chile. Bosque, 4, 117-146.
[33] Clapp, R.A. (2001) Tree Farming and Forest Conservation in Chile: Do Replacement Forests Leave Any Originals Behind? Society and Natural Resources, 14, 341-356.
[34] Warwick, R.M. and Clarke, K.R. (1995) New Biodiversity Measures Reveal a Decrease in Taxonomic Distinctness with Increasing Stress. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 129, 301-305.
[35] Clarke, K.R. and Warwick, R.M. (1998) A Taxonomic Distinctness Index and Its Statistical Properties. Journal of Applied Ecology, 35, 523-531.
[36] Clarke, K.R. and Warwick, R.M. (1999) The Taxonomic Distinctness Measure of Biodiversity: Weighting of Step Lengths between Hierarchical Levels. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 184, 21-29.
[37] Van der Spoel, S. (1994) A Biosystematic Basis for Pelagic Biodiversity. Contributionsto Zoology, 64, 3-31.
[38] Rogers, S., Clarke, K. and Reynolds, J. (2001) The Taxonomic Distinctness of Coastal Bottom-Dwelling Fish Communities of the North-East Atlantic. Journal of Animal Ecology, 68, 769-782.
[39] Vare, H., Lampinen, R., Humphries, C., Williams, P., Nagy, L., Grabherr, G., Korner, C. and Thompson, D. (2003) Taxonomic Diversity of Vascular Plants in the European Alpine Areas. Springer, Berlin.
[40] Ojeda, F., Maranon, T. and Arroyo, J. (2009) Patterns of Ecological, Chorological and Taxonomic Diversity at Both Sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. Journal of Vegetation Science, 7, 63-72.
[41] Simpson, E. (1949) Measurement of Diversity. Nature, 163, 11-13.
[42] Pielou, E. (1975) Ecological Diversity. Wiley, New York.
[43] Braun Blanquet, J. (1928) Pflanzensoziologie. Grundzüge der Vegetationskunde. Springer, Wien.
[44] Pellissier, V., Gallet, S. and Roze, F. (2004) Comparison of the Vegetation and Seed Bank on Hedge Banks of Different Ages in Brittany, France. Environmental Management, 34, 52-61.
[45] Armesto, J., Rozzi, R., Smith Ramirez, C. and Arroyo, M. (1998) Conservation Targets in South American Temperate Forests. Science, 282, 1271-1272.
[46] Asmüssen, M. and Simonetti, J. (2007) Can a Developing Country like Chile Invest in Biodiversity Conservation? Environmental Conservation, 34, 183-185.
[47] Clarke, K. and Warwick, R. (2001) A Further Biodiversity Index Applicable to Species Lists: Variation in Taxonomic Distinctness. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 216, 265-278.
[48] Price, A., Keeling, M. and O’Callaghan, C. (1999) Ocean-Scale Patterns of Biodiversity of Atlantic Asteroids Determined from Taxonomic Distinctness and Other Measures. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 66, 187-203.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.