Phytosociology of the herbaceous-subshrub layer of a rupestrian complex in Serra do Espinhaço, Brazil

ABSTRACT Rupestrian complexes of the Serra do Espinhaço are recognized for their high degree of biodiversity and endemism. However, environmental impacts, particularly from mining, have degraded these environments. The purpose of this study was to describe the herbaceous-subshrub communities that occur in quartzitic (QRC) and ferruginous (FRC) rupestrian complexes in different seasons of the year, with regard to floristic similarity and phytosociological structure. Additionally, the study aimed to identify native species with potential use for the restoration of similar degraded areas. Vegetation was sampled from plots located in the municipality of Conceição do Mato Dentro, state of Minas Gerais. Five contiguous strata of 10 × 50 m were demarcated in each environment, in which 12 plots of 2 × 1 m (2 m²) were randomly distributed, for a total of 60 plots (sample units) in each physiognomy. The studied communities exhibited few similarities and lower floristic diversity than other rupestrian complexes. Detrended correspondence analysis distinguished the communities of FRC from those of QRC. The species with the highest value of importance in FRC were Bulbostylis fimbriata and Centrosema brasilianum, while in QRC Echinolaena inflexa had the highest values, thus, making them eligible for restoration programs in similar environments.