The Botanical Review

, Volume 82, Issue 4, pp 407–427 | Cite as

The Physical Structure of Forests in the Amazon Basin: a Review



Aquí reviso lo que sabemos sobre la estructura física de los bosques en la cuenca del Amazonas. Aunque los bosques de la cuenca del Amazonas se encuentran entre los ecosistemas más importantes de la Tierra, que son poco muestreadas, descritos o conocidos. Esta opinión es motivado por la falta de conocimiento, y también intenta tanto para agregar un nivel de organización a lo que sí sabemos y sugerir futuras líneas de investigación. Hago esto por primera dando cuenta de que los bosques amazónicos son fundamentalmente ya sea o no inundado inundado. Dentro de ese contexto, (1) los bosques no inundables se pueden definir aún más por características tales como el tipo de suelo, el alivio microtopological y régimen de perturbaciones de origen humano y (2) bosques inundados se pueden definir aún más por las características del agua, el grado de inundaciones y la duración de las inundaciones . Después de completar una revisión mediante estos grupos básicos, sugiero que es probable que crezca sustancialmente a medida que aumentamos el muestreo en el futuro nuestro conocimiento de los diferentes tipos de bosques en la cuenca amazónica. Cierro con preguntas para ayudar a guiar los esfuerzos futuros, ideas sobre cómo las comunidades forestales podrían definirse cuantitativamente, y una llamada para obtener más fondos para la investigación de la Amazonía.


Terra firme Palm White sand Várzea Igapó 


Here I review what we know about the physical structure of forests in the Amazon Basin. Although the forests in the Amazon basin are among the most important ecosystems on Earth, they are little sampled, described or understood. This review is motivated by that lack of knowledge, and also attempts both to add a level of organization to what we do know and to suggest future avenues of research. I do this by first realizing that Amazon forests are fundamentally either unflooded or flooded. Within that context, (1) unflooded forests can be further defined by such characteristics as soil type, microtopological relief, and human-induced disturbance regime and (2) flooded forests can be further defined by water characteristics, degree of flooding and duration of flooding. After completing a review using these basic groupings, I suggest that our knowledge of the different kinds of forests in the Amazon basin is likely to grow substantially as we increase sampling in the future. I close with questions to help guide those future efforts, ideas on how forest communities could be defined quantitatively, and a call for more research funding of the Amazon.



I would like to thank Dr. Hugo Naverette and the staff of the Yasuni Research station (Ecuador), Dr. Devon Michaels and the staff at the Sabalillo Forest Reserve (Peru), and Dr. Paul Beaver and the staff at the Area de Conservación Regional Comunal de Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (Peru) for their help in facilitating my research in the Amazon. I also thank H. Balslev and F. Wittmann for commenting on a past draft of the manuscript. This research was assisted by three awards from the Fulbright Foundation.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentOklahoma State UniversityOklahoma CityUSA

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