Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 743-754, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 21, 2021)
Phytosociology, successional level, and conservation
of the woody component in a “restinga” of Maranhão island, Brazil
Flávia Cristina Vieira Serra
Eduardo Bezerra Almeida Jr.
1. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade e Conservação, Universidade Federal do Maranhão, São Luís,
Maranhão, Brazil; flavia_biologia@hotmail.com
2. Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Federal do Maranhão, São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil; ebaj25@yahoo.com.br
Received 11-VI-2020. Corrected 08-IV-2021. Accepted 11-VI-2021.
Introduction: The “restingas” (coast vegetation) can serve as a species corridor in ecotonal environments due
to the particulars regarding the composition of the flora. The studies covering the entire length of the Maranhão
state coast are necessary to understand the diversity and distribution of plant species present in the “restingas”.
Objective: The objective of this study was to characterize the structure and conservation of the woody vegeta-
tion of a “restinga” in Maranhão. Methods: Phytosociological sampling of woody vegetation was carried out
using the quadrants method, followed by classification of species by successional group; in addition to analyzing
the diametric and hypsometric data of the populations whose species presented the highest importance value
(IV). Results: In total, 24 species and 16 families were identified, 72 % of which were classified in the initial
stages of succession. The values of H’ and J’ were 2.637 nat.ind
and 0.830, respectively. The mean height
and diameter were 2.1 m and 27.66 cm, respectively. The species Coccoloba ramosissima Wedd., Byrsonima
crassifolia (L.) Kunth, Anacardium occidentale L., Manilkara triflora (Allemão) Monach, and Astrocaryum
vulgare Mart. presented the highest IVs. Conclusions: It was observed that characteristics such as size, power
of regrowth, and ease of regeneration processes could be useful for choosing target species for recovery actions
in coastal areas.
Key words: phytosociology; diametric structure; vertical distribution; Maranhão state; environmental
Vieira Serra, F.C., & Bezerra Almeida, E. Jr. (2021).
Phytosociology, successional level, and conservation of
the woody component in a “restinga” of Maranhão island,
Brazil. Revista de Biología Tropical, 69(2), 743-754.
The restinga has a high environmental rel-
evance in view of the vegetal and physiognom-
ic mosaic, its conservation is essential due to
the intense threat caused by anthropic actions
(Dias & Soares, 2008). In the Northeast region
of Brazil, despite the increase in research for
this ecosystem, as in States of the Bahia: Mene-
zes, Santana, Silva, Silva and Araújo (2012),
Santos, Zickel and Almeida Jr. (2015); Pernam-
buco: Almeida Jr., Santos-Filho, Araújo and
Zickel (2011), Cantarelli, Almeida Jr., Santos-
Filho and Zickel (2012a); Alagoas: Medeiros,
Santos-Filho, Almeida Jr., Pimentel and Zickel
(2010); Rio Grande do Norte: Almeida Jr.
and Zickel (2012), Medeiros, Almeida Jr.,
Abreu, Santos-Filho and Zickel (2014); Piauí:
Santos-Filho, Almeida Jr. and Zickel (2013a);
Paraíba: Vicente, Almeida Jr., Santos-Filho
and Zickel (2014); Sergipe: Santana, Rocha,
Oliveira, Prata and Ribeiro (2020) - the existing
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 743-754, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 21, 2021)
knowledge about wealth and diversity still
does not correspond to the coastal territorial
extension of the region. What makes broader
analysis impossible due to the particulari-
ties in various aspects of its biodiversity and
conservation status.
Considering, in particular the Maranhão
coastline, the knowledge about restinga vegeta-
tion is still restricted to a few floristic studies
(Cabral-Freire & Monteiro, 1993; Serra, Lima,
& Almeida Jr., 2016; Silva, Araujo, & Almeida
Jr., 2016a; Amorim, Amorim, & Almeida Jr.,
2016a; Lima & Almeida Jr., 2018) and phyto-
sociological records (Araujo, Silva, & Almeida
Jr., 2016; Amorim, Santos-Filho, & Almeida
Jr., 2016b; Machado & Almeida Jr., 2019;
Almeida Jr., Correia, & Santos-Filho, 2020).
These studies represent only a small part of the
coast in Maranhão, which is in turn in a large
transition area between vegetation in the Ama-
zon and Cerrado domain (Silva et al., 2016b).
Knowing that restingas can serve as a spe-
cies corridor in ecotonal environments, studies
covering the entire length of the Maranhão
coast are necessary to understand the diversity
and distribution of plant species present in the
restingas (Castro, Moro, & Menezes, 2012;
Serra, Lima, & Almeida Jr., 2016).
One of the ways to obtain information
about plant species for conservation is related
to knowledge of the structure of the plant
community (Nadkarni, Mcintosh, & Cushing,
2008). Thus, height and diameter measure-
ments could provide data on the plant com-
munity or be used for the analysis of one or
more species of interest in the succession
processes. The existence of different strata in
the plant community enables greater diver-
sity of micro-habitats, which can increase the
diversity of species and ecological interactions
(Souza, Souza, Gama, & Leite, 2003). There-
fore, vertical stratification could contribute as
an indicator of environmental sustainability
of a forest, influencing wealth, diversity, and
biomass production (Souza et al., 2003) among
other factors.
Therefore, evaluation of conditions regard-
ing the dynamics of the forest can generate
subsidies for future forest management actions
based on indications about the populations
in the development of the plant community
(Siminski, Mantovani, dos Reis & Fantini,
2004). Considering the need for data related
to the structure of the woody vegetation of
the restingas in Maranhão (Serra et al., 2016;
Machado & Almeida Jr., 2019; Almeida Jr. et
al., 2020), the current study aims to character-
ize the structure of woody vegetation, analyze
the diametric and hypsometric distribution of
species of greatest ecological importance, and
indicate the level of succession to support
future research on recovery and or management
of coastal areas.
Study area: The collections were carried
out in a restinga in the Eastern part of Maranhão
Island (02º38’47.85’ S & 44º09’05.76’ W), on
the Sítio Aguahy. The area is owned by Com-
panhia Farmacêutica Quercegen Agronegócios
I Ltda., in the municipality of São José de Rib-
amar, Maranhão state (Fig. 1).
The Sítio Aguahy has an area of 400 ha
consisting of a transition between fragments
of regenerating Amazon forest, mangrove, and
restinga (Serra et al., 2016; Marinho, Muniz,
& Azevedo, 2018). The fragment denominated
restinga occupies an area of approximately 50
ha, consisting of vegetation from herbaceous
to arboreal stratum, presenting physiognomies
of floodable fields, non-floodable shrubby,
and non-floodable forest (Serra et al., 2016)
(Fig. 2). The climate of the region, according
to the classification of Köppen (1948), is of the
Aw type, having two distinct seasons: a rainy
season that extends from January to June and
a dry season that begins in July and extends
until December. The average rainfall index of
Maranhão Island is approximately 2 000 mm/
year and the average temperatures through-
out the year vary between 25.5 and 28.6 °C
(INMET, 2016).
Vegetation sampling: Phytosociological
sampling was carried out in 2015 and followed
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 743-754, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 21, 2021)
the quadrants method (Cottam & Curtis, 1956).
In each quadrant, the individual closest to the
central point that meets the inclusion criteria of
the sample is marked and identified. Then its
distance from the central point of the quadrant
is recorded (Durigan, 2003). Five transections
were plotted on area, arranged in parallel, each
measuring 100 m. Ten points were allocated
to each transection, with a distance of 10 m
between each point, totaling 50 points. Indi-
viduals woody with a diameter at ground height
(DGH) 3 cm were measured. In the case of
tillered individuals (plants that had branches at
the base of the stem) all the trunks were mea-
sured and the sum of the perimeters of each
tiller was used to represent the final value of
the plant diameter.
This sample size has been considered
satisfactory for restinga areas, achieving
sample sufficiency through stability in the
species saturation curve (Zickel et al., 2015).
In addition, this sampling method follows the
studies carried out for the woody strata of
the Northeast region (Medeiros et al., 2010;
Almeida Jr. & Zickel, 2012; Santos-Filho et
al., 2013a; Medeiros et al., 2014; Machado &
Almeida Jr., 2019).
For the analysis of the community organi-
zation, relative density (RD), relative frequen-
cy (RF), basal area (BA), relative dominance
(RDO), importance value (IV), Shannon diver-
sity index (H’), Pielou equability index (J’),
and total wealth (S) were calculated using the
FITOPAC 2.0 package (Shepherd, 2009).
For the analysis of the diametric distribu-
tion, a histogram was elaborated with the num-
ber of individuals per class of diameter (10 cm
interval), representing the plant community. To
Fig. 1. Location of Ilha do Maranhão, where the restinga of Sítio Aguahy is located, municipality of São José de Ribamar,
Maranhão state. Source D. Muniz.