Plant communities in Western Amazonian

TitlePlant communities in Western Amazonian
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMyster, RW
JournalThe Botanical Review
Accession NumberLUQ.929

In this review I focus on the socially and ecologically important western Amazon basin and its associated plant communities. I delineate this vast area as between the Andes to the west and the confluence of the Amazon and its first major black-water river, the Rio Negro, to the east. Although scientists have explored here, and local people have lived here for years, we still have—unfortunately—only a most basic understanding of its plant communities. This review is motivated by that lack of knowledge, and attempts both to add a level of organization to what we do know and to suggest future avenues of research. I do this by first realizing that plant communities here must be fundamentally differentiated by the degree of flooding they experience, the kind of water involved, and how regularly that flooding occurs. Within that context, plant communities can then be further defined by such characteristics as soil type, micro-topological relief, and human-induced disturbance regime. After completing the review, I suggest that the diversity of plant communities, not just the plants themselves, is large and likely to grow substantially as we sample more and more, that is to say the peak of the plant community-sampling area curve has not yet been reached. I close with basic questions to help guide future efforts, ideas on how plant communities could be defined quantitatively, and a call for more research funding of the Western Amazon.