The Amazon basin contains the largest and most diverse tropical rainforest in the world. Besides the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean, the rainforest is bounded to the north by the Guiana crystalline shield and to the south by the Brazilian crystalline shield marked at their edges by cataracts in the rivers often dominated by grasslands. Forest Structure, Function and Dynamics in Western Amazonia is motivated not just by the Amazon's scientific interest but also by its role in many ecostystem functions critical to life on Earth. Those ecosystems are characterized both by their complexity and their interactive, higher-order linkages among both abiotic and biotic components. Within Amazonia, the Western Amazon (west of 65° latitude) is the most pristine and, perhaps the most complex within the Amazon basin. This Western Amazon may be broadly divided into non-flooded forests (e.g., terra forme, white sand, palm) and forests flooded with white-water (generally referred to as varzea) and with black-water (generally referred to as igapo). Here, for the first time, is a book devoted entirely to Western Amazonia containing chapters by scientists on the forefront of their own areas of expertise. It should be a valuable resource for all future researchers and scholars who venture into it, as it continues to be one of the most beautiful, mysterious, remote and important ecosystems on Earth.
List of Contributors xi
1 Introduction 1
2 A Floristic Assessment of Ecuador’s Amazon Tree Flora 27
3 Geographical Context of Western Amazonian Forest Use 53
4 Forest Structure, Fruit Production and Frugivore Communities in Terra firme and Várzea Forests of the Médio Juruá 85
5 Palm Diversity and Abundance in the Colombian Amazon 101
6 Why Rivers Make the Difference: A Review on the Phytogeography of Forested Floodplains in the Amazon Basin 125
7 A Diversity of Biogeographies in an Extreme Amazonian Wetland Habitat 145
8 Forest Composition and Spatial Patterns across a Western Amazonian River Basin: The Influence of Plant–Animal Interactions 159
9 Bird Assemblages in the Terra Firme Forest at Yasuní National Park 181
10 Conclusions, Synthesis and Future Directions 195
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