Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 371–383 | Cite as

Tree species distribution inVárzea forests of Brazilian Amazonia

  • Pia ParolinEmail author
  • Leandro Valle Ferreira
  • Ana L. K. M. Albernaz
  • Samuel S. Almeida


Amazonian várzea forests are floodplains inundated by nutrient-rich white-water rivers occurring along the Amazon River. They are regularly flooded for up to 210 days per year by water columns of 10–15 m. Topographic variation results in different flooding amplitudes and durations along the flooding gradient, where the different tolerance to flooding of different plant species results in a vegetation zonation. We made a review of literature about the vegetation composition ofvárzea floodplain forests of Brazilian Amazonia along the Amazon River. Twenty-two studies were selected. Basing on the distribution of inventories which are concentrated in three main areas around the three larger cities Belém, Manaus and Tefé, we classified the inventories into three regions: (A) Estuary region with flooding regime influenced by daily inundations linked to the tides; (B) Central Amazonia near Manaus; (C) Western part of Brazilian Amazonia bordering Peru and Colombia, including Tefé and the “Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá”. Summarizing the analyzed species lists, 36 tree species were registered in all sampled regions including the estuary. The regions A +C have 63 species in common, region B+C 143, and A+B 50. In the inventories analyzed here, an increase in species numbers from East to West can be confirmed, but it is difficult to state whether this is not an artefact due to local sampling. Vertical zonation patterns are difficult to discuss due to the lack of comparable data. The inventoried areas are small, and there is an urgent need for comparable floristic inventories throughout the basin. Destruction is spreading rapidly and the traditional use of forests and its resources is changing to a destructive exploitation that already has changed much of the physiognomy and diversity of this unique ecosystem.


Flood gradient Inventories Whitewater floodplain forest Zonation 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Parolin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leandro Valle Ferreira
    • 2
  • Ana L. K. M. Albernaz
    • 2
  • Samuel S. Almeida
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for Limnology, Tropical EcologyPlönGermany
  2. 2.Museu Paraense Emílio GoeldiBelém, ParáBrazil

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