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Lianas (woody vines) are iconic symbols of tropical forest ecosystems around the world. Forest climbers take advantage of the biologically-expensive architecture of trees to gain relatively inexpensive access to the light-rich canopy. The evolution of a climbing habit has occurred in many unrelated plant groups using twining and clasping shoots or specialised structures such as tendrils, hooks, spines, adhesive roots, and novel stem anatomy. In recent decades, the significance of lianas to tropical forest diversity (up to 40% of species), abundance (up to 45% of stems), and forest gap dynamics has been increasingly recognised. Although they are often considered pests in commercial forestry, woody climbers are important to many traditional peoples as medicines, subsistence fibres and non-timber forest products. Largely due to the inaccessibility of their flowers and fruits, lianas and other climbers remain among the most poorly documented life-forms in the tropics.
Lianas of the Guianas aims to provide an overview and advance understanding of woody climber diversity in the forests of Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname. Lianas of the Guianas will facilitate learning and identification of woody climbers for specialists and non-specialists with an image-rich format, simplified terminology, a mostly vegetative family and genus key, artistic icon guides, and common names and uses. The growth-forms covered include woody lianas, subwoody lianas, liana-like hemi-epiphytes, tree-like hemi-epiphytes, and climbing shrubs. Chapters are organised alphabetically by plant family and names follow the APG III classification. Approximately 55 families, 170 genera, and 500 more common species are described in the main text, with ± 1300 species (including herbaceous climbers) in a comprehensive checklist. This is one of the first such guides to include predictive genera and species distribution model maps, with a comprehensive set of maps made available on-line.
Lianas of the Guianas will serve as an attractive and useful tool for those concerned with the biodiversity of the Guianan Shield and the neotropics at large.