Analysis of the Orchidaceae Diversity in the Pululahua Reserve, Ecuador: Opportunities and Constraints as Regards the Biodiversity Conservation of the Cloud Mountain Forest
Cloud mountain forest
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The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is a protected natural area in the cloud mountain forest of Ecuador, so rich in orchid species despite being a volcanic area still under threat of volcanic activity. A comparative biodiversity study of orchids was carried out in two different sectors, Chaupisacha (CH) and La Reventazón (LR). Data were collected in 1 ha plots in each sector, in which all the orchids found were counted and two individuals of each species were retained. Immature individuals were conserved in a plant nursery until flowering. In CH, there were 922 individuals grouped into 24 genera and 55 species, while LR had 9196 individuals grouped into 26 genera and 46 species; only 14 species were found in both sectors. Different density and diversity indexes were calculated. The density (ind./100 m2) of CH was 0.96, while that of LR was 185.92. Simpson’s diversity (1 − λ) attained CH 0.903 ± 0.01 and LR 0.85 ± 0.01. The orchid diversity measured by the Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H′) was 1.29 for CH, differing significantly from that of LR (H′ 1.02). The medium equity (Jaccard’s J′) found was 0.61 in CH and 90.78 in LR. Limitations as regards the natural dispersion of orchids seemed to favor endemism. Some species, such as Dracula felix and Restrepia guttulate, are threatened with disappearance from the wild or are vulnerable, as is the case for Epidendrum polyanthogastrium. A lack of information on the phenology and anthropic impacts in the area limit the conservation of species, signifying that new protected figures and seed banks are necessary, especially in CH, owing to its high diversity of orchids.