Abstract Title

Composition of medicinal plant families in differing light environments in secondary growth tropical forests of Costa Rica

Abstract

Plant secondary metabolites are known to play a major role in the adaptation of plants to their environment, as they aid plant fitness by preventing insect herbivory, inhibiting pathogen attacks, and aiding in their reproduction. These compounds are also important to humans for their medicinal uses. This study compared the composition, diversity, and richness of flowering plants in two plots located in secondary growth forests with differing light environments. The forests were located in Project Campanario Biological Preserve, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. It was hypothesized that a larger diversity and abundance of plants should exist when the canopy is less dense and there is more direct sunlight in the forest. Higher plant diversity should have a greater diversity of potentially medicinal plants, as indicated by the diversity of secondary compounds. After surveying two plots and identifying the plants based on family, further research was conducted to determine whether or not the families are known to have medicinal uses. All but one of the identified plant families were found to have medicinal uses. Contrary to our hypothesis, the plot that received the most amount of direct sunlight was the least diverse, and had a lower richness of medicinal plants. The plot with the least amount of direct sunlight had the most diverse amount of plants and all had medicinal uses. Though the data was not significant, 93% of the families of plants found did have medicinal uses.

Modified Abstract

Plant secondary metabolites are known to play a major role in the adaptation of plants to their environment, as they aid plant fitness. These compounds are also beneficial to humans for their medical uses. This study compared the composition, diversity, and richness of flowering plants in two plots located in secondary growth forests with differing light environments in Costa Rica. It was hypothesized that a larger diversity and abundance of plants should exist when the canopy is less dense and there is more direct sunlight in the forest. Higher plant diversity should have a greater abundance of potentially medicinal plants, as indicated by the different secondary compounds. Two plots were surveyed and the plants were identified down to family. Medicinal uses of the secondary compounds were then found using further research. Overall, 93% of the plant families found had potential medicinal uses.

Research Category

Biology/Ecology

Author Information

Katherine BouscherFollow

Primary Author's Major

Biology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Oscar Rocha

Start Date

5-4-2018 1:00 PM

Research Area

Biodiversity | Forest Biology | Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy | Plant Biology

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Apr 5th, 1:00 PM

Composition of medicinal plant families in differing light environments in secondary growth tropical forests of Costa Rica

Plant secondary metabolites are known to play a major role in the adaptation of plants to their environment, as they aid plant fitness by preventing insect herbivory, inhibiting pathogen attacks, and aiding in their reproduction. These compounds are also important to humans for their medicinal uses. This study compared the composition, diversity, and richness of flowering plants in two plots located in secondary growth forests with differing light environments. The forests were located in Project Campanario Biological Preserve, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. It was hypothesized that a larger diversity and abundance of plants should exist when the canopy is less dense and there is more direct sunlight in the forest. Higher plant diversity should have a greater diversity of potentially medicinal plants, as indicated by the diversity of secondary compounds. After surveying two plots and identifying the plants based on family, further research was conducted to determine whether or not the families are known to have medicinal uses. All but one of the identified plant families were found to have medicinal uses. Contrary to our hypothesis, the plot that received the most amount of direct sunlight was the least diverse, and had a lower richness of medicinal plants. The plot with the least amount of direct sunlight had the most diverse amount of plants and all had medicinal uses. Though the data was not significant, 93% of the families of plants found did have medicinal uses.