We related pteridophytes versus tree species composition to identify surrogate measures of diversity, and complementarity of seven cloud forest fragments. Forest structure, and fern and tree composition were determined in 70 (2 × 50 m) transects. Fern density (10,150–25,080 individuals/ha) differed among sites. We recorded 83 fern species in the transects. Nonparametric richness estimators indicated that more sampling effort was needed to complete fern inventories (14 more species). However, ferns recorded outside of the transects increased richness to 103 species (six more species than predicted). Twenty-eight species were unique and rare due to special habitat requirements (Diplazium expansum, Hymenophyllum hirsutum, Melpomene leptostoma, Terpsichore asplenifolia), or were at a geographical distribution edge (Diplazium plantaginifolium, Lycopodium thyoides, Pecluma consimilis, Polypodium puberulum). Correlations between fern richness and tree richness and density were not significant, but were significant between fern richness and fern density, between epiphytic fern density and tree richness and density. Tree richness is not a good surrogate for fern diversity. Only three species were recorded in all fragments (Polypodium lepidotrichum, P. longepinnulatum, P. plebeium); thus fragments’ pteridophytes compositions are highly complementary, but more similar for ferns than for trees. A regional conservation approach which includes many small reserves needs to focus supplementarity on patterns of tree and fern species richness.
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