Estimation of the number of tree species in French Guiana by extrapolation of permanent plots richness


The biodiversity of tropical rainforest is difficult to assess. Yet, its estimation is necessary for conservation purposes, to evaluate our level of knowledge and the risks faced by the forest in relation to global change. Our contribution is to estimate the regional richness of tree species from local but widely spread inventories. We reviewed the methods available, which are nonparametric estimators based on abundance or occurrence data, log-series extrapolation and the universal species–area relationship based on maximum entropy. Appropriate methods depend on the scale considered. Harte’s self-similarity model is suitable at the regional scale, while the log-series extrapolation is not. GuyaDiv is a network of forest plots installed over the whole territory of French Guiana, where trees over 10 cm DBH are identified. We used its information (1315 species censused in 68 one-hectare plots) to estimate the exponent of the species–area relationship, assuming Arrhenius’s power law. We could then extrapolate the number of species from three local, wide inventories (over 2.5 km2). We evaluated the number of tree species around 2200 over the territory.

Journal of Tropical Ecology