Palms are most diverse in warm and humid regions near the equator. Though palms remain relatively well conserved, they are under increasing pressure from deforestation. Here, we analyze patterns of palm species richness relative to latitudinal gradient, sampling effort, and deforestation in the Amazon, and compare patterns of richness and floristic similarity among Amazonian sub-regions. We built a database of 17,310 records for 177 species. The areas with the greatest richness were in the western, central and northeastern Amazon, principally at latitudes 0–5ºS. Species richness and the number of records were highly correlated (R2=0.76, P<0.005). The highest rates of deforestation (>2000 km2) were found in the southern and eastern Amazon of Brazil, which coincide with low richness and gaps in records. Similarity analyzes resulted in two groups of sub-regions: the first included the Amazon s.s., the Andes and the Guiana, while the second included the Plateau and Gurupi. We conclude that the highest species richness is at low latitudes, and observed richness is affected by sampling effort and is vulnerable to deforestation. Therefore, areas with low species richness, especially areas with data deficiency, need to be further studied for a better understanding of their patterns of diversity and richness.
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