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White-Sand Vegetation of Brazilian Amazonia
Anthony B. Anderson
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Sep., 1981), pp. 199-210
Published by: Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388125
Page Count: 12
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This paper describes a distinctive vegetation type occurring on white-sand soils which are scattered throughout the Amazon region. Although essentially homologous throughout Amazonia, white-sand vegetation is known locally by various terms: to avoid confusion, exclusive use of the single term "Amazon caatinga" is proposed. The Amazon caatinga is distinguished from other regional vegetation types by its white-sand soil, scleromorphic physiognomy, and unusual floristic composition. Possible origins of the white-sand soil include: in-situ weathering, alluvial deposition, or podzolization. The scleromorphic physiognomy of the caatinga indicates a lack of nutrients and/or periodic water deficiencies in the soil. Extreme edaphic conditions and the insularity of these sites have probably acted as powerful selective forces, generating a biota characteristically low in diversity and high in endemism. Numerous endemic species may currently face extinction due to wide-spread burning of caatinga vegetation. Repeated fires on white-sand sites result in the effective arrest of succession; subsequent mining of these sites for sand eliminates any possibility of vegetational reestablishment. Alternative benefits of the Amazon caatinga in its intact state are considered.
Biotropica © 1981 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation