Phytogeography, Species Diversity, Community Structure and Dynamics of Central Amazonian Floodplain Forests

  • Florian WittmannEmail author
  • Jochen Schöngart
  • Wolfgang J. Junk
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 210)


Amazonian floodplain forests are classified into nutrient-rich white-water floodplains (várzea) and nutrient-poor black-water and clear-water floodplains (igapó). Tree species distribution depends on sediment- and nutrient-loads of river waters, on flood regimes and hydro-geomorphic disturbance. The distribution of the different floodplain forest types is determined by adaptations of tree species to different levels and periods of flooding, and most habitats and species are strongly zoned along the flooding gradient. This leads to characteristic successional stages with distinct species composition, diversity, and forest structure. Amazonian floodplains and especially the várzea is covered by the most-species rich floodplain forest worldwide. Low flooded forests are floristically distinct from highly-flooded forests, and characterized by intense species exchange with the surrounding uplands. Highly-flooded forests are characterized by elevated degrees of endemic tree species. This indicates comparatively stable environmental conditions over large part of the Amazon basin since at least the early Palaeocene. It is likely that the Amazonian floodplains represented linear refuges for moist-sensitive tree species from the Amazonian uplands during periods with dryer climatic conditions.


Last Glacial Maximum Floodplain Forest Tree Species Richness Terra Firme Terra Firme Forest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Wittmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jochen Schöngart
    • 2
  • Wolfgang J. Junk
    • 3
  1. 1.Biogeochemistry DepartmentMax Planck Institute for ChemistryMainzGermany
  2. 2.State University of Amazonas (UEA), National Institute of Amazon Research (INPA)ManausBrazil
  3. 3.Working Group of Tropical EcologyMax-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary BiologyPlönGermany

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