ISSN 2586-9566 (Print) ISSN 2985-0789 (Online)

Diversity of ferns in oil palm plantations of different age-classes at Si Banphot District, Phatthalung Province

Pornphumin Nuankong1 and Sarawood Sungkaew1
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Background and Objectives: There was a controversial issue whether oil palm plantations could be regarded as a valuable place for Ex-Situ fern biodiversity conservation. Consequently, this research was set up to study the diversity of ferns in the oil palm plantations of 3 different age-classes (younger than 10-year-old, 10 to 20-year-old, older than 20-year-old) which have similar management program. This is then subjected to compare with ferns in the nearby natural moist evergreen forest.

Methodology: The temporary sampling plot of 40 x 40 m, 3 replicates for each plantation age-class and the forest, were laid to study the terrestrial and epiphytic ferns on the oil palms or other trees of 4.5 cm (diameter at breast height), and from the ground level to the reachable height of no more than 2 m high. This work was conducted during 13 July-31 August 2022 at Si Banphot District, Phatthalung Province.

Main Results: The results showed that 7 families, from 20 genera and 26 species of ferns were found in total. Of these, 16 species are terrestrial ferns while the other 10 are epiphytic ones. Polypodiaceae (8 genera 8 species) was the family of ferns most found in this study, followed by Pteridaceae (5 genera 6 species), Aspleniaceae (3 genera 6 species), Schizaeaceae (1 genus 3 species), and the others 3 families (Cyatheaceae, Marattiaceae and Gleicheniaceae), 1 species each found. Among the 3 age-classes oil palm plantations: 3 families, 5 genera, 5 species of the ferns were found in the younger than 10-year-old oil palm plantation; 4 families, 11 genera, 11 species in the 10 to 20-year-old oil palm plantation, and 4 families, 11 genera, 13 species in the older than 20-year-old oil palm plantation. Whilst 7 families, 11 genera, and 14 species were found in the forest.

Conclusion: It can be concluded that the older plantations tend to have a higher species diversity of ferns than the younger plantations. Even though the older than 20-year-old oil palm plantation and the moist evergreen forest possessed a similar number of fern species (13 vs 14 species, respectively), the similarity between the two was relatively low (22.22%). Therefore, further study is required before concluding that palm oil plantation is a valuable and suitable place for Ex-Situ biodiversity conservation of fern.

Keywords: Agriculture, alien species, biodiversity, forest, Thailand

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