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Riparian Vegetation in British Guiana

D. B. Fanshawe
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 42, No. 2 (Jul., 1954), pp. 289-295
DOI: 10.2307/2256863
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2256863
Page Count: 7
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Riparian Vegetation in British Guiana
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Abstract

Riparian vegetation comprises plants which grow half in and half out of or wholly in the water, clearly distinguishable in a natural state from the non-riparian communities behind. Riparian vegetation in British Guiana is classified into swamp forest, swamp woodland, arborescent woodland, arborescent swamp, herbaceous swamp, semi-aquatic swamp and aquatic swamp. Riparian vegetation occurs on a variety of soils on a variety of sites, but the sites are almost continually waterlogged. Natural vegetation is restricted to the upper reaches of the main rivers; the lower reaches carry a disturbed or seral vegetation. Arborescent swamp and relics of mangrove forest are exceptions to the rule in that they appear to be natural and occur in the estuaries. Riparian vegetation in British Guiana falls into four longitudinal zones: (i) mangrove forest; (ii) Bombax-Pterocarpus swamp woodland; (iii) (a) Macrolobium bifolium swamp forest, (b) Inga-Ficus swamp forest; (iv) (a) Macrolobium acaciaefolium swamp forest, (b) Couratari-Myrciaria swamp forest. Previous accounts of riparian vegetation in British Guiana are discussed. Riparian vegetation is described in broad detail by zones as follows: Zone I. (i) Rhizophora mangle forest, (ii) Avicennia nitida forest, (iii) secondary Rhizophora forest, (iv) secondary Avicennia forest. Zone II. (i) Bombax-Pterocarpus woodland, (ii) secondary Bombax-Pterocarpus woodland, (iii) secondary Inga-Triplaris woodland, (iv) arborescent swamp, (v) herbaceous swamp, (vi) semi-aquatic swamp. Zone III. (i) Macrolobium bifolium forest, (ii) secondary Macrolobium bifolium forest, (iii) secondary Cyrilla-Macrolobium forest, (iv) Inga-Ficus forest, (v) myrtle woodland. Zone IV. (i) Macrolobium acaciaefolium forest, (ii) Couratari-Myrciaria forest, (iii) Croton-Inga woodland, (iv) aquatic swamp. Riparian species have a wide zonal distribution complicated by disturbance of the fringing vegetation and by the merging of one zone into another.

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