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Title: A century of plant species loss from an isolated fragment of lowland tropical rain forest
Authors: Turner, I.M. 
Chua, K.S.
Ong, J.S.Y.
Soong, B.C.
Tan, H.T.W. 
Issue Date: Aug-1996
Citation: Turner, I.M., Chua, K.S., Ong, J.S.Y., Soong, B.C., Tan, H.T.W. (1996-08). A century of plant species loss from an isolated fragment of lowland tropical rain forest. Conservation Biology 10 (4) : 1229-1244. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: A isolated 1 ha fragment of lowland tropical rain forest has been preserved in the Singapore Botanic Gardens since their founding in 1859. The Botanic Gardens' Jungle has recently had enumerated all woody stems 5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) and larger and the complete vascular plant flora inventoried. This inventory can be compared with the historic record of the flora of the Gardens' Jungle obtained from the extensive collection of herbarium specimens dating back to the 1890s. Of the 448 historically recorded native species, 220 are still present. Ninety-four native species for which there were no historic records and 80 introduced species were also recorded in the recent inventory. The 50.9% loss of plant species richness over approximately the last century has not been distributed uniformly across plant life-form groups. Tree species have been less likely to go extinct than shrubs, climbers, or epiphytes. But half of the tree species present in 1994 were represented by only one or two individuals > 5 cm dbh and larger. Individual longevity may be the major correlate with persistence of plant species in isolated forest fragments. Shade-tolerant understory shrubs (mostly Rubiaceae) and rattans (Palmae) have been particularly prone to extinction. Some species have probably proliferated during the period of isolation. The tree Calophyllum ferrugincum currently constitutes one quarter of all woody stems. A group of climbers has become very common and covers large areas, probably inhibiting tree regeneration. We conclude that tiny fragments will act as refuges for tropical rain-forest plant species for decades, possibly even centuries after isolation but on their own they will not provide a permanent guarantee of the conservation of tropical biodiversity.
Source Title: Conservation Biology
ISSN: 08888892
DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1739.1996.10041229.x
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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