understory, saplings, floristic diversity, disturbance.
Objective: To characterize the understory species associated with a pine-oak forest in the Sierra Mariscal region, Chiapas.
Design/methodology/approach: Six 40 m2 subplots were established to evaluate the cover, abundance and identity of shrub, herbaceous and sapling components of the understory. Floristic diversity was determined. The level of disturbance was evaluated using the observation method. An analysis of variance and comparison of means by Tukey (p<0.05) between structural variables was applied. The relationship between disturbance levels and study sites was performed by correspondence analysis.
Results: The understory is composed of five tree species, three herbaceous and two shrub species. The largest diameter (p≤0.0001 and F=27.6) corresponds to herbaceous Cortaderia seolloana (5.38±0.94 cm) and Petiridium aquilinum (4.5±0.96 cm). The greatest height corresponds to Quercus sp. saplings (126.3±75.9 cm) and the herbaceous Cenchurus sp. (110.2±54.1 cm) and Peteridium aquilinum (91.7±40.9 cm), the latter having the highest density (4050 ind. ha-1) and cover (16.2%). Floristic diversity was low in all six sites. Site six was the most diverse and site three the most disturbed.
Study limitations/implications: The study comprised a limited and insufficient area to generalize the conditions of pine-oak forests in the Chiapas highlands. It is suggested to expand the study universe and increase the number of replications.
Findings/conclusions: Variability in understory structure and composition was found that corroborates the relationship between forest diversity and disturbance