Distribution and population structure of four Central Amazonian high-várzea timber species
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- da Silva Marinho, T.A., Piedade, M.T.F. & Wittmann, F. Wetlands Ecol Manage (2010) 18: 665. doi:10.1007/s11273-010-9186-y
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Amazonian white-water (várzea) floodplains harbor many commercially important timber species which in Brazil are harvested following regulations of the Federal Environmental Agency (IBAMA). Although it is well-known that tree physiology, growth, and species distribution of Amazonian floodplain trees is linked to the heights and durations of the periodical inundations, information about timber stocks and population dynamics is lacking for most tree species. We investigated timber stocks and the population structure of four intensely logged tree species in a western Brazilian várzea forest on an area totaling 7.5 ha. Spatial distribution was investigated in all trees as a function of inundation height and duration and the distance to the river channel, and additionally for saplings (trees <10 cm diameter at breast height––DBH) as a function of the relative photosynthetically active radiation (rPAR). The diameter-class distribution in Hura crepitans and Ocotea cymbarum indicated that populations are subject to density variations that possibly are traced to small-scale flood variability. In all species, saplings concentrated at higher topographic elevations than the mature tree populations, which suggest that the physical ‘escape’ from a flooded environment is an important acclimation to flooding. While Ocotea cymbarum and Guarea guidonia were high-density wood species characterized by random dispersion and a pronounced shade-tolerance, Hura crepitans and Sterculia apetala presented lower wood density, aggregated dispersion, and were more light-demanding. All species presented exploitable stems according to the current harvest regulations, with elevated abundances in comparison to other Amazonian forest types. However, stem densities are below the harvest rates indicating that the harvest regulations are not sustainable. We recommend that the forest management in várzea forests should include specific establishment rates of timber species in dependence of the peculiar site conditions to achieve sustainability.