Effects of exotic tree plantations on the richness of dragonflies (Odonata) in Atlantic Forest, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


One of the forest types occurring in Southern Brazil is the mixed ombrophilous forest (MOF), a subtype of the Atlantic Forest, which is one of the richest biomes on Earth. This biome currently remains as a highly fragmented mosaic, under pressure from human development. The diversity and ecology of most animal groups in this biome are poorly known. We studied Odonata in a large forest fragment, including an ecological reserve: the Floresta Nacional de São Francisco de Paula (FLONA-SFP), in Rio Grande do Sul, administrated by the Brazilian government. The reserve is dominated by MOF with sectors of Pinus elliottii and Araucaria angustifolia. Three surveys of these forest sectors over one year yielded 42 species, with the highest species richness recorded in the P. elliottii sector. The odonate species recorded here are all generalist in terms of habitat preferences, but they appeared only in low numbers and were very particular in their occurrence pattern. We therefore assume that the introduction of an alien element in the Atlantic Forest has given rise to a new species assemblage, where the ecology of the species is adapted to the novel habitat of Pinus plantations. As expected, the species occurring in the MOF sectors were mainly habitat specialists. The Araucaria plantations had an intermediate species composition. Despite the differences observed in habitat preference between generalist and specialist species, such exotic plantation habitats may act as a temporary biodiversity reservoir for further habitat colonization.

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