Structure and Alpha Biodiversity of Major Plant Communities in Chile, a Distant Gondwanan Relation

Raymond L. Specht, Gloria Montenegro, Mary E. Dettmann


The structure, growth and biodiversity of Chilean vegetation are explored from the arid north, through the Mediterranean-climate zone of Central Chile to the evergreen and semi-deciduous Nothofagus vegetation in the south and into the treeless wet-heath vegetation of the Magellanic islands. The northern Desert Zone has four to six genera of plants that have been recorded in Australia, while the southern vegetation reveals many relationships with the cool temperate vegetation of Australia with which Chile was conjoined in the Gondwanan assembly during the Late Mesozoic. As the physico-chemical processes that determine the structure, growth and biodiversity of plant communities on median-nutrient soils are similar in the temperate climates of Chile and Australia, similar values of Foliage Projective Cover, Leaf Area, Leaf Specific Weight and Alpha Biodiversity result.

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