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The vegetation of granite rock outcrops in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the need for its protection

    • Published online: 10 May 2002

Rock outcrop communities usually receive very little attention from scientists and environmentalists. We examined the vegetation occurring in eight gneiss-granite rock outcrops at Rio de Janeiro State (Brazilian Atlantic coast) which exists in natural associations on soil islands. A total of 86 vascular plant species, belonging to 30 families, was found on 347 soil islands. Bromeliaceae, Asteraceae and Velloziaceae species were the most frequent plants, many of them endemic to these habitats. Ordination and cluster analyses using species frequency on each site made evident some major distinctions related to local influences, most probably the proximity to the sea. Each outcrop presented high values of the Shannon-Wiener index of species diversity. Species richness was very dependent on the total area, and high beta diversity was observed amongst sites. Similarities with the South American and African rock-outcrop communities were found. Despite their uniqueness as habitats, their possession of several endemic species and the fragility of the ecosystem involved, Brazilian rock outcrops are not protected by specific environmental legislation and we propose urgent actions for their protection.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dr Sergio Tadeu Meirelles Fax +55 11 813 4151 E-mail:
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Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
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