Data from: Species richness and phylogenetic diversity of seed plants across vegetation zones of Mount Kenya, East Africa
Zhou, Yadong et al. (2018), Data from: Species richness and phylogenetic diversity of seed plants across vegetation zones of Mount Kenya, East Africa, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7sj4t8h
Mount Kenya is of ecological importance in tropical east Africa due to the dramatic gradient in vegetation types that can be observed from low to high elevation zones. However, species richness and phylogenetic diversity of this mountain have not been well studied. Here, we surveyed distribution patterns for a total of 1,335 seed plants of this mountain and calculated species richness and phylogenetic diversity across seven vegetation zones. We also measured phylogenetic structure using the net relatedness index (NRI) and the nearest species index (NTI). Our results show that lower montane wet forest has the highest level of species richness, density, and phylogenetic diversity of woody plants, while lower montane dry forest has the highest level of species richness, density, and phylogenetic diversity in herbaceous plants. In total plants, NRI and NTI of four forest zones were smaller than three alpine zones. In woody plants, lower montane wet forest and upper montane forest have overdispersed phylogenetic structures. In herbaceous plants, NRI of Afro‐alpine zone and nival zone are smaller than those of bamboo zone, upper montane forest, and heath zone. We suggest that compared to open dry forest, humid forest has fewer herbaceous plants because of the closed canopy of woody plants. Woody plants may have climate‐dominated niches, whereas herbaceous plants may have edaphic and microhabitat‐dominated niches. We also proposed lower and upper montane forests with high species richness or overdispersed phylogenetic structures as the priority areas in conservation of Mount Kenya and other high mountains in the Eastern Afro‐montane biodiversity hotspot regions.