Molecular-based Plant Inventory of a Megadiverse Bahian Forest

Wayt Thomas and collaborators

The Atlantic forests of Brazil comprise one of the world’s biodiversity “Hotspot” regions, with high biological diversity, high endemism, and high rates of deforestation. The forests of southern Bahia are among the most biologically diverse forests in the world. A quantitative inventory of these forests found 458 species of woody plants ≥ 5 cm in diameter at breast height in a single hectare of mature forest. Since over 90% of the trees collected in inventories are sterile, identifications must be done using only vegetative features, and many of the vouchers are identified only as “morphospecies.” We propose to collect silica dried samples of cambium of all 2500 trees in the transect in order to determine 1) the correctness of our identifications, (a) how many samples were correctly identified to species, and (b) how many of our morphospecies were correctly distinguished; and 2) the real number of species in the hectare, and how much it differs from our original estimate. The sequenced samples of these ca. 450 species will also be a great addition to our general bank of DNA sequences.