Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 1933–1961 | Cite as

Secondary forests on anthropogenic soils in Brazilian Amazonia conserve agrobiodiversity

  • André Braga JunqueiraEmail author
  • Glenn Harvey ShepardJr.
  • Charles R. Clement
Original Paper


Throughout Brazilian Amazonia anthropogenic soils that are the product of pre-Columbian settlements are called Terra Preta de Índio (Indian Dark Earths, TPI). These soils are dramatically different from surrounding soils due to long-term human activity, but there is little information about how secondary forest succession is affected by these differences. We tested if community structure (density, richness and basal area), floristic composition and domesticated species’ richness and density were similar between TPI and non-anthropogenic soils (NAS) in 52 25 × 10 m secondary forest plots in different successional stages near three traditional communities along the middle Madeira River, Central Amazonia. We sampled 858 woody individuals on TPI (77 domesticated) and 1095 on NAS (27 domesticated); 550 understory palms on TPI (169 domesticated) and 778 on NAS (123 domesticated). We found 179 species on TPI (10 domesticated), 190 on NAS (8 domesticated), and 74 (25%) in both environments. Although community structure on TPI and NAS was fairly similar, they showed significantly distinctive floristic compositions, both for woody individuals and understory palms. The density and richness of domesticated species was significantly higher on TPI than on NAS for woody individuals, but not for palms. The intimate long-term association of TPI with human activity has lead to the formation of distinct secondary forests and has favored the concentration of domesticated populations of crop species. Hence, secondary forests on anthropogenic soils concentrate agrobiodiversity, offering advantages for in situ conservation of genetic resources, and are unique ecosystems that should be considered in conservation efforts.


Community structure Amazonian dark earths Plant domestication Secondary succession Succession management Traditional resource management 



Analysis of covariance

EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária)

The Portuguese acronym for the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation)

IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística)

The Portuguese acronym for the Brazilian Institute of geography and statistics

INPA (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia)

The Portuguese acronym for the National Research Institute for Amazonia


International Union of Soil Science.

LTSP/INPA (Laboratório Temático de Solos e Plantas)

the Portuguese acronym for the Soil and Plant Thematic Laboratory of INPA


Multivariate analysis of variance


Non-anthropogenic soils.


Non-metric multidimensional scaling


Principal components analysis

TPI (Terra Preta de Índio)

The Portuguese acronym for Indian black earths, also called Indian dark earths and Amazonian dark earths



Our sincere thanks for the invaluable help and kindness of the residents of Água Azul, Barreira do Capanã and Terra Preta do Atininga, especially to the field assistants Raimundo Nonato Soares Barros, Silvestre Arcanjo de Souza, José Rodrigues de Souza and Raimundo Furtado Neto. Thanks also to a number of people at INPA who helped with plant identifications, especially José Ferreira Ramos and Paulo Apóstolo. André Braga Junqueira received a graduate scholarship from the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), and this work is part of his master’s dissertation at INPA. The Brazilian International Institute of Education (IEB)/The Moore Foundation provided financial support and IdeaWild provided equipment for fieldwork. Tânia Pimentel and the staff from the LTSP/INPA provided support with the laboratorial soil analyses. We thank Ana Catarina Jakovac, James A. Fraser, Bruce Walker Nelson, Laura German, Lin Chau Ming and William Balée for suggestions to improve earlier versions of this manuscript. Charles R. Clement is a fellow of CNPq.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Braga Junqueira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Glenn Harvey ShepardJr.
    • 2
  • Charles R. Clement
    • 1
  1. 1.Coordenação de Pesquisas em Ciências AgronômicasInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazôniaManausBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de AntropologiaMuseu Paraense Emílio GoeldiBelémBrazil

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