The Botanical Review

, Volume 84, Issue 4, pp 394–410 | Cite as

What we Know about the Composition and Structure of Igapó Forests in the Amazon Basin

  • Randall W. Myster


The Amazon contains some of the most critical ecosystems on earth and Igapó forests are one of those ecosystems. They are flooded by “black-water”, leached runoff of forest litter. To help in our understanding of igapó forests, and to act as a resource for their future research, I review what we know about their composition and structure. I used my own sampling data to construct floristics tables of the tree species, and tables of physical structural parameters such as tree density, species richness basal area and above-ground biomass (AGB). In addition I used data gotten from literature searches on google scholar, biosys, WorldCat discovery services and other databases for all papers that sampled trees in plots within igapó forests. I found there was a total of 59 families sampled in all the plots. The families with the most genera were Fabaceae and Caesalpiniaceae, with the most species were Fabaceae and Euphorbiaceae, and with the most tree stems were Fabaceae and Euphorbiaceae. The most common genera were Mouriri and Lincania and the most common species were Virola elongate and Swartzia polyphylla. For structure, total stems had a wide range between 167 and 683 per ha, stem sizes generally conformed to a “reverse J” distribution pattern, mean stem sizes were ~20 cm diameter at breast height, there was a species richness range between 90 and 119 per ha, and igapó forests were more open than other forest-types in the Amazon basin. While these plots were in primary igapó forest, my samplings of secondary igapó forests showed they had a reduced structure compared to primary igapó forests but were similar within the different kinds of secondary igapó forests.


Basal area Above-ground biomass Stem size Density Species richness Fishers α 


El Amazonas contiene algunos de los ecosistemas más críticos de la tierra y los bosques de Igapó son uno de esos ecosistemas. Están inundados por “aguas negras”, escorrentías lixiviadas de la basura forestal. Para ayudar en nuestra comprensión de los bosques de igapó, y para actuar como un recurso para su futura investigación, repaso lo que sabemos sobre su composición y estructura. Utilicé mis propios datos de muestreo para construir tablas florísticas de las especies arbóreas y tablas de parámetros estructurales físicos tales como la densidad del árbol, el área basal de la riqueza de especies y la biomasa aérea (AGB). Además, utilicé datos obtenidos de búsquedas bibliográficas en Google scholar, biosys, servicios de descubrimiento WorldCat y otras bases de datos para todos los documentos que muestreaban árboles en parcelas dentro de los bosques de igapó. Encontré que había un total de 59 familias muestreadas en todas las parcelas. Las familias con más géneros fueron Fabaceae y Caesalpiniaceae, con la mayoría de las especies Fabaceae y Euphorbiaceae, y con la mayoría de los tallos de los árboles Fabaceae y Euphorbiaceae. Los géneros más comunes fueron Mouriri y Lincania y las especies más comunes fueron Virola alargada y Swartzia polyphylla. Para la estructura, los tallos totales tenían un amplio rango entre 167 y 683 por hectárea, los tamaños del tallo generalmente se ajustaban a un patrón de distribución “inversa J”, los tamaños medios del tallo eran ~ 20 cm de diámetro a la altura del pecho, existía un rango de riqueza entre 90 y 119 por hectárea y los bosques de igapó fueron más abiertos que otros tipos de bosques en la cuenca del Amazonas. Si bien estas parcelas estaban en el bosque de igapó primario, mis muestreos de bosques de igapó secundarios mostraron que tenían una estructura reducida en comparación con los bosques primarios de igapó, pero eran similares dentro de los diferentes tipos de bosques secundarios de igapó.



I thank F. Wittmann for commenting on a past draft of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentOklahoma State UniversityOklahoma CityUSA

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