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Title: Spatial and temporal analysis of floristic composition and dynamics in some lowland Amazonian forests
Author: Vinceti, Barbara
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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Recent research has suggested that apparently undisturbed tropical forests, remote from areas of deforestation or other significant human influences, are undergoing unexpected changes. These observed changes may already be having significant impacts on terrestrial carbon stocks, fluxes, and biodiversity. However, the findings have proved controversial, partly because a rather limited number of permanent sample plots (PSPs) have been monitored for short periods. This work is centred on tree-by-tree data collated from long-term forest PSPs from several lowland Neotropical sites, spanning a wide gradient of environmental conditions across the Amazon basin, covering variable census intervals. The aim of the analysis is to: (1) investigate the role played by the main environmental variables in determining the observed geographical patterns of rainforest floristic composition, diversity and structure, (2) characterize temporal and regional patterns of forest dynamics, and changes in forest dynamics and basal area (BA), (3) explore potential shifts in species composition over time, due to mechanisms other than natural successional processes. With regard to floristic aspects, the present work reveals that: (1) large-scale patterns in the abundance of the most important tree families are identifiable, with fast-growing families dominating in highly dynamic forest stands studied in western Amazonia (WA); (2) the number of dry months seems to be the best predictor for alpha-diversity across the sites investigated, (3) soil seems to be playing a major role in determining floristic diversity, at local scale; (4) significant structural differences exists between forests stands located in drier and wetter sites. With regard to forest dynamics and BA, the study shows that: (1) turnover is much higher in western than in central Amazonian (CA) plots, (2) stand BA and turnover appear to have been significantly increasing in the last two decades in almost all PSPs examined, regardless of environmental conditions, (3) morality and recruitment have both increased in every region, but the increase is not significant for mortality rates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available