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The book treats the cerrado (one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world), a large-scale South American vegetation, its formation and origin, its plants and their adaptations, their rhythms of life, and their interactions with animals. The Central Brazilian cerrado should be considered as a distinct vegetation type, distinguished from other physiognomically similar Central and South American vegetation types by its ecology, species composition and floristic diversity. Cerrado occurs frequently in savanna-like forms, but also as forest (closed arboreal canopy), woodland (open arboreal canopy), scrub and open grassland forms. Floristic similarities of cerrado and Central and South American savannas and savanna-like vegetation are the result of a common origin of all these vegetation types and also testifies to floristic exchange between Neotropical savannas and cerrados during the Tertiary and the Quaternary.
In the first volume, we examine in detail this vegetation, its structure, dynamics and presumed origin. Emphasis is on the adaptational features of plants in relation to their physical environment, in particular climate, soil conditions and fire. Further, we discuss the utility to humans of cerrado plants, as well as the influence of man upon this ecosystem, as well as confront some of the problems associated with conservation politics.
Preface, (1) Introduction, (2) Definition of Cerrado and Distinction From Other Vegetation Types, (3) Geographical Location and Extension of the Cerrado Biome, (4) Geology, Geomorphology, Paleoclimate, Paleoecological Changes and Origin of Cerrado, (5) Climate, (6) Soil Properties and Relationships Among Soil, Vegetation and Plants, (7) Physiognomy of Vegetation, (8) Further Vegetation Types in the Cerrado Region and Transitional Forms, (9) The Origin of the Cerrado Flora, (10) Floristic Diversity and Community Structure, (11) Physiognomic Characters, Life Forms, Growth Forms and Underground Organs, (12) Tree Age, Growth Rate and Growth Rhythm, (13) Water Balance, Nutrient Availability, and Xeromorphic and Scleromorphic Features of Cerrado Plants, (14) Fire and its Influence on Plants and Vegetation, (15) Frost and its Effects on Species Distribution in the Southern Cerrado Region, (16) Seasonality and Rhythm of Vegetation, (17) Seed Germination, Seedling Establishment and Regeneration Capacity of Cerrado, (18) Utility of Cerrado Plants and their Economic Potential, (19) The Transformation of Cerrado into Cropland and Pasture, Environmental Consequences and Influence on Soil Dynamics, (20) The Amerindians and the Cerrado, (21) The Importance and Future of Cerrado, References, Index.