Elucidating woody community diversity and structure change along environmental gradients is still a central issue of tropical forest ecology. We have evaluated changes in alpha and beta diversity, community composition and structure of woody communities along an elevational gradient in Dwarf Cloud Forests, Southeast Brazil. We selected five areas along an elevational gradient (1,300–1,600 m asl), and randomly allocated 10 plots (10 m × 20 m) in each area in the Ibitipoca State Park (ISP), Serra da Mantiqueira, southeastern Brazil. All woody species (diameter at breast height ⩾ 5.0 cm) were collected for taxonomic identification. Thus, we analysed the woody communities based on a phytosociological approach. Overall, 147 species and 37 families were recorded, distributed in 2,303 individuals. No differences in the species richness pattern were observed between areas using the rarefaction and extrapolation curves. Significant differences in species composition and structure between areas were observed. The high beta diversity observed, corroborated by the Jaccard coefficient, increases with decreasing altitude. Our results showed that woody communities in the studied Dwarf Cloud Forests have a higher diversity and structural variability along elevational gradient.
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