Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Interactive effects of flooding and forest gap formation on tree composition and abundance in the Peruvian Amazon

  • Randall W. MysterEmail author


In order to better understand how flooding and gap formation affect Amazonian rainforests, I set up plots both in three major forest types that differed by flooding duration (referred to here as dry, wet, very wet) and in their respective gaps. Sampling of those plots after 4 years of regeneration showed: (1) common species exist between wet forests and their gaps and between wet and very wet gaps, (2) tree richness is maximum in dry forest and minimum in very wet gaps except in the wet gaps that show the second highest number of species, (3) there were less stems in gaps compared to forests and less stems in forests as flooding increased, except again in the wet gaps, and (4) dominance-diversity curves have more dominance by single species in the dry gap plots compared to other gaps and in dry forest compared to other forests. In general while some aspects of structure such as tree stem density is largely determined by tree-fall gap dynamics, tree composition is determined by flooding regime. Finally a jump in tree richness in wet forests and wet gaps compared to other plots suggests a “mass effects” hypothesis where species from dry and very wet forest and gaps have overlapping ranges in the wet forest and gap. This effect may help explain the high species diversity seen in this part of the Amazon.


Lowland wet tropical rainforest LTER Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Terra firme 


Gentry (1993) Romoleroux et al. (1997) Valencia et al. (2004) 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Augspurger C.K. (1984): Seedling survival of tropical tree species: interactions of dispersal distance, light-gaps and pathogens.Ecology 65: 1705–1712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balslev H., Luteyn J., Ollgaaed B. &Holm-Nielsen L.B. (1987): Composition and structure of adjacent unflooded and floodplain forest in Amazonian Ecuador.Opera Bot. 92: 37–57.Google Scholar
  3. Brokaw N.V.L. (1982): The definition of treefall gap and its effect on measures of forest dynamics.Biotropica 11: 158–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Connell J.H. (1978): Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs.Science 199: 1302–1309.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Daly D.C. &Prance G.T. (1989): Brazilian Amazon. In:Campbell D.G. &Hammond H.D. (eds.),Floristic inventory of tropical countries, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York, pp. 401–426.Google Scholar
  6. Daly D.G. &Mitchell J.D. (2000): Lowland vegetation of tropical South America. In:Lentz D.L. (ed.),Imperfect balance: landscape transformation in the Pre-Columbian Americas, Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 391–453.Google Scholar
  7. Denslow J.S. (1980): Patterns of plant species diversity during succession under different disturbance regimes.Oecologia 46: 18–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Everham E.M. III,Myster R.W. &Vandergenachte E. (1996): Effects of light, moisture, temperature and litter on the regeneration of five tree species in the tropical montane wet forest of Puerto Rico.Amer. J. Bot. 83: 1063–1068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferreira L.V. (1997): Effects of the duration of flooding on species richness and floristic composition in three hectares in the Jau National Park in floodplain forests in central Amazonia.Biodivers. & Conservation 6: 1353–1363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferreira L.V. (2000): Effects of flooding duration on species richness, floristic composition and forest structure in river margin habitat in Amazonian blackwater floodplain forests: implications for future design of protected areas.Biol. Conservation 9: 1–14.Google Scholar
  11. Ferreira L.V. &Prance G.T. (1998): Species richness and floristic composition in four hectares in the Jau National Park in upland forests in Central Amazonia.Biol. Conservation 7: 1349–1364.Google Scholar
  12. Ferreira L.V. &Stohlgren T.J. (1999): Effects of river level fluctuation on plant species richness, diversity, and distribution in a floodplain forest in Central Amazonia.Oecologia 120: 582–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gentry A. (1993):A field guide to woody plants of northwest South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru). Conservation International, Washington.Google Scholar
  14. Gleason H.A. (1926): The individualistic concept of the plant association.Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 53: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gottdenker N. &Bodmer R.E. (1998): Reproduction and productivity of white — lipped and collared peccaries in the Peruvian Amazon.J. Zool. London 245: 423–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grubb P.J. (1977): The maintenance of species richness in plant communities: the importance of the regeneration niche.Biol. Rev. 52: 107–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Junk W.J. (1989): Flood tolerance and tree distribution in central Amazonian floodplains. In:Holm-Nielsen L.B., Nielsen I.C. &Balslev H. (eds.),Tropical forests: Botanical dynamics, speciation and diversity, Academic Press, New York, pp. 47–64.Google Scholar
  18. Kalliola R., Jukka S., Puhakka M. &Rajasilta M. (1991): New site formation and colonizing vegetation in primary succession on the western Amazon floodplains.J. Ecol. 79: 877–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lamotte S. (1990): Fluvial dynamics and succession in the Lower Ucayali River basin, Peruvian Amazonia.Forest Ecol. Managem. 33/34: 141–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lopez O.R. &Kursar T.A. (1999): Flood tolerance of four tropical tree species.Tree Physiol. 19: 925–932.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Ludwig J.A. &Reynolds J.T. (1988):Statistical ecology: a primer on methods and computing. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Lugo A.E. &Lowe C. (1995):Tropical forests: management and ecology. Springer Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Myster R.W. (1997): Seed predation, disease and germination on landslides in Neotropical lower montane wet forest.J. Veg. Sci. 8: 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Myster R.W. (2001): Foliar pathogen and insect herbivore effects on two landslide tree species in Puerto Rico.Forest Ecol. Managem. 169: 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Myster R.W. (2003a): Seed regeneration mechanisms over fine spatial scales on recovering Coffee plantation and pasture in Puerto Rico.Pl. Ecol. 166: 199–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Myster R.W. (2003b): Vegetation dynamics of a permanent pasture plot in Puerto Rico.Biotropica 35: 422–428.Google Scholar
  27. Myster R.W. (2003c): Using biomass to model disturbance.Community Ecol. 4: 101–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Myster R.W. &Fernandez D.S. (1995): Spatial gradients and patch structure on two Puerto Rican landslides.Biotropica 27: 149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Myster R.W. &Santacruz P.G. (2005): Una comparación de campo de insectos de suelo-morar de Amazonas: Tierra firme y bosques de tierras inundadas vs. espacios abiertos en el Parque Nacional Yasuní, Ecuador.Revista Pontif. Univ. Católica Ecuador 76: 111–124.Google Scholar
  30. Myster R.W., Thomlinson J.R. &Larsen M.C. (1997): Predicting landslide vegetation in patches on landscape gradients in Puerto Rico.Landscape Ecol. 12: 299–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nebel G., Dragsted J. &Vanclay J.K. (2000): Estructura y composicion floristica del bosque de la llanura alluvial inundable de la amazonia peruana: II. Elsotobosque de la restinga.Folia Amazonica 10: 151–162.Google Scholar
  32. Nebel G., Kvist L.P., Vanclay J.K., Christensen H., Freitas L. &Ruiz J. (2001a): Structure and floristic composition of flood plain forests in the Peruvian Amazon I. Overstory.Forest Ecol. Managem. 150: 27–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nebel G., Dragsted J. &Vanclay J.K. (2001b): Structure and floristic composition of flood plain forests in the Peruvian Amazon II. The understorey of restinga forests.Forest Ecol. Managem. 150: 59–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Parolin P. (2002): Submergence tolerance vs. escape from submergence: two strategies of seedling establishment in Amazonian floodplains.Environm. & Exp. Bot. 48: 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Parolin P., Desimone O., Hase K., Waldhoff D., Rottenberger S., Kuhn U., Kesselmeier J., Schmidt W., Piedade M.T.F. &Junk W.J. (2004): Central Amazon floodplain forests: tree survival in a pulsing system.Bot. Rev. 70: 357–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pickett S.T.A. &White P.S. (1985):The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, Orlando.Google Scholar
  37. Pitman N.C.A., Terborgh J., Silman M.R. &Percy N.V. (1999): Tree species distributions in an upper Amazonian forest.Ecology 80: 2651–2661.Google Scholar
  38. Pitman N.C.A., Terborgh J.W., Silman M.R., Percy N.V., Neill D.A., Ceron C.E., Palacios W.A. &Aulestia M. (2001): Dominance and distribution of tree species in upper Amazonian Terra firme forests.Ecology 82: 2101–2117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pitman N.C.A., Vriesendorp C. &Moskovits D. (2003):Peru: Yavari. Rapid Biological Inventories Report 11, The Field Museum, Chicago.Google Scholar
  40. Prance G.T. (1979): Notes on the vegetation of Amazonia III. The terminology of Amazonian forest types subject to inundation.Brittonia 31: 26–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Risser R.G. (1987): Landscape ecology: state of the art. In:Turner M.G. (ed.),Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance, Ecological studies 64, Springer Verlag, New York, pp. 123–145.Google Scholar
  42. Romoleroux K., Foster R., Valencia R., Condit R., Balslev H. & Losos E. (1997): Especies lenosas (dap = 1 cm) encontradas en dos hectareas de un bosque de la Amazonia ecuatoriana. In:Valencia R. & Balslev H. (eds.),Estudios Sobre Diversidad y Ecologia de Plantas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, pp. 189–215.Google Scholar
  43. Ruokolainen H. &Tuomisto H. (1998): Vegetación natural de la zona de Iquitos. In:Kalliola R. &Flores S. (eds.),Geoecologia y desarrollo amazonico: Estudio integrado en la zona de Iquitos, Peru, Ann. Univ. Turkuensis, Ser. A II, Turku, Finland, pp. 253–365.Google Scholar
  44. Sas (1985):User’s guide: statistics, Version 5 edition. SAS Institute Inc. Cary, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  45. Schongart J., Piedade M.F.T., Ludwigshausen S., Homa V. &Worbes M. (2002): Phenology and stem-growth periodicity of tree species in Amazonian floodplain forests.J. Trop. Ecol. 18: 581–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Swaine M.D. (1996):The ecology of topical forest tree seedlings. Man and the Biosphere, Volume 17. The Parthenon Publishing Group, New York.Google Scholar
  47. Stevens G.C. (1992): The elevational gradient in altitudinal range: an extension of Rapoport’s latitudinal rule to altitude.Amer. Naturalist 140: 893–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thompson J., Protor J., Scott D.A., Fraser P.J., Marrs R.H., Miller R.P. &Viana V. (1998): Rain forest on Maraca Island, Roraima Brazil: artificial gaps and plant response to them.Forest Ecol. Managem. 102: 305–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Turner M. G. &Dale V. H. (1991): Modeling landscape disturbance. In:Turner M.G. &Gardner R.H. (eds.),Quantitative methods in landscape ecology: the analysis and interpretation of landscape heterogeneity, Ecological studies 82, Springer Verlag, New York, pp. 134–146.Google Scholar
  50. Valencia R., Balslev H., Guillermo P. &Mino C. (1994): High tree alpha-diversity in Amazonian Ecuador.Biol. Conservation 3: 21–28.Google Scholar
  51. Valencia R., Foster R. B., Villa G., Condit R., Svenning J., Hernandez C., Romoleroux K., Losos E., Magard E. &Balslev H. (2004): Tree species distributions and local habitat variation in the Amazon: large forest plot in eastern Ecuador.J. Ecol. 92: 214–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vasquez Martinez R. (1997):Florula de las Reservas Biologicas de Iquitos, Peru. Monographs in Systematic Botany Missouri Botanical Gardens 63, St. Louis.Google Scholar
  53. Walter H. (1973):Vegetation of the earth and the ecological systems of the geo-biosphere. Springer Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  54. Whittaker R. H. (1975):Communities and ecosystems. MacMillian, New York.Google Scholar
  55. Wittmann F., Anhuf D. &Junk W.J. (2002): Tree species distribution and community structure of Central Amazonian varzea forests by remote sensing techniques.J. Trop. Ecol. 18: 805–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wittmann F. &Junk W. J. (2003): Sapling communities in Amazonian white-water forests.J. Biogeogr. 30: 1533–1544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wittmann F., Junk W.J. &Piedada M.T.F. (2004): The varzea forests in Amazonia: flooding and the highly dynamic geomorphology interact with natural forest succession.Forest Ecol. Managem. 196: 199–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Worbes M. (1985): Structural and other adaptations to long-term flooding by trees in Central Amazonia.Amazoniana 9: 459–484.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Botany 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Central OklahomaEdmondUSA

Personalised recommendations