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Tree Species Diversity and Forest Structure in Relation to Microtopography in a Tropical Freshwater Swamp Forest in French Guiana

Piia Koponen, Pekka Nygren, Daniel Sabatier, Alain Rousteau and Etienne Saur
Plant Ecology
Vol. 173, No. 1 (2004), pp. 17-32
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20146617
Page Count: 16
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Tree Species Diversity and Forest Structure in Relation to Microtopography in a Tropical Freshwater Swamp Forest in French Guiana
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Abstract

Diversity of tree association and forest structure were analysed in relation to microtopography and flooding intensity in a tropical freshwater swamp forest in the Sinnamary river basin, French Guiana. A 530-m-long vegetation transect was established through a hummock-hollow terrain. Nine 10 m × 50 m sample plots, perpendicular to the main transect, were located so that each was as microtopographically uniform as possible. Trees with dbh (diameter at 1.3 m) ≥ 10 cm were censused in all plots and trees with 2 cm ≤ dbh < 10 cm in three plots. Sixty tree species belonging to 39 genera and 30 families were recorded. The study area was divided into low and high sites according to microtopography and flooding intensity. According to the Czekanowski similarity matrix, the tree association in low, most frequently flooded, sites differed from that in the high sites under intermediate or low flooding intensity. The low sites had higher stand density and lower species richness than the high sites. Trees with dbh ≥ 10 cm in low sites were small and stand basal area (SBA) was about the same in low (69.6 m² ha⁻¹) and high (64.3 m² ha⁻¹) sites. The low areas were dominated by Pterocarpus officinalis (38% of stems with dbh ≥ 10 cm and 36% of SBA) and Malouetia tamaquarina (26 and 15%). Diospyros guianensis (13.4% of stems with dbh ≥ 10 cm and 6.1% of SBA), a Caraipa sp. (14.0 and 7.9%), Lecythis corrugata (6.6 and 3.5%) and emergent Caryocar microcarpum (0.9 and 13.9%) were abundant in high sites. Nodulated legume trees, P. officinalis, Hydrochorea corymbosa and Inga disticha, comprised 44% of stems in the low sites. The abundant nodulation suggests that symbiotic dinitrogen fixation may be an adaptation to N-depleted waterlogged soils. Other adaptive responses were litter accumulation between the buttresses of P. officinalis, which formed hummocks above surface water, and clonal growth habit of M. tamaquarina, which resulted in formation of monospecific groves in low sites.

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