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Acta Amazonica

Print version ISSN 0044-5967On-line version ISSN 1809-4392


SUOMINEN, Lassi; RUOKOLAINEN, Kalle; PITKANEN, Timo  and  TUOMISTO, Hanna. Similar understorey structure in spite of edaphic and floristic dissimilarity in Amazonian forests. Acta Amaz. [online]. 2015, vol.45, n.4, pp.393-404. ISSN 1809-4392.

Forest structure determines light availability for understorey plants. The structure of lowland Amazonian forests is known to vary over long edaphic gradients, but whether more subtle edaphic variation also affects forest structure has not beenresolved. In western Amazonia, the majority of non-flooded forests grow on soils derived either from relatively fertile sediments of the Pebas Formation or from poorer sediments of the Nauta Formation. The objective of this study was to compare structure and light availability in the understorey of forests growing on these two geological formations. We measured canopy openness and tree stem densities in three size classes in northeastern Peru in a total of 275 study points in old-growth terra firme forests representing the two geological formations. We also documented variation in floristic composition (ferns, lycophytes and the palm Iriartea deltoidea) and used Landsat TM satellite image information to model the forest structural and floristic features over a larger area. The floristic compositions of forests on the two formations were clearly different, and this could also be modelled with the satellite imagery. In contrast, the field observations of forest structure gave only a weak indication that forests on the Nauta Formation might be denser than those on the Pebas Formation. The modelling of forest structural features with satellite imagery did not support this result. Our results indicate that the structure of forest understorey varies much less than floristic composition does over the studied edaphic difference.

Keywords : canopy openness; Iriartea deltoidea; Pebas Formation; pteridophytes; stem density.

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