Plant Ecology

, Volume 215, Issue 12, pp 1469–1481 | Cite as

Composition and structure of a diverse tree community at the edges of a Brazilian Amazon rainforest island surrounded by marshes and mangroves

  • Luciana Oliveira dos Santos
  • Leiliane Oliveira dos Santos
  • Moirah Paula Machado de Menezes
  • Colin Robert Beasley
  • Ulf Mehlig


Man-made forest edges affect tree community composition and structure, but there is little information on the effects of natural edges. To detect tree community changes related to natural edges, we investigated a terrestrial forest island, bordered by grassland and mangrove landscapes, on the Brazilian Amazon coast. Forest structure and tree species composition were examined in 10-m-wide and 100-m-long plots from the forest edge to the interior in relation to both landscapes (8 grassland and 4 mangrove plots). Elevation and soil quality did not reveal strong spatial variability; tidal inundation established a boundary for forest expansion without influencing the forest interior. The tree community consisted of 82 species. No distinct changes in vegetation structure and composition with distance from the border were detected. Ordination procedures gave weak indications for shifts in community composition with distance from the edge and in respect to edge type. Single species occurred more frequently either close to or more distant from the grassland-forest interface. No such tendencies were detected at the mangrove-terrestrial forest interface, probably because the lack of structural differences between terrestrial forest and mangrove canopies did not permit the establishment of edge-related microclimatic gradients. Due to the isolation of the forest island and the harsh coastal environment, the tree community was dominated by generalist species which are well adapted to the conditions at the grassland–forest edge. Furthermore, the patchy distribution of frequent species and the high number of rare species made it difficult to detect spatial patterns related to the forest edge.


Edge effect Core area Spatial smoothing Split-window analysis Pará Bragança 



The first author received a scholarship provided by the Support Program for Restructuring and Expansion of the Federal Universities (Restruturação e Expansão das Universidades Federais, REUNI) of the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC). The Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute (ICMBIO) and the Council of the Caeté-Taperaçu Extractive Reserve provided the necessary permits for our work. The authors wish to thank editor Karen Harper and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We are grateful to Vitor A. N. Bragança for his support during field work.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (pdf 523 KB)
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Supplementary material 2 (pdf 109 KB)
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Supplementary material 3 (pdf 144 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luciana Oliveira dos Santos
    • 1
  • Leiliane Oliveira dos Santos
    • 1
  • Moirah Paula Machado de Menezes
    • 1
  • Colin Robert Beasley
    • 1
  • Ulf Mehlig
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Biologia Vegetal, Instituto de Estudos Costeiros (IECOS)Federal University of Pará (UFPA)BragançaBrazil

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