Soil physical restrictions and hydrology regulate stand age and wood biomass turnover rates of Purus–Madeira interfluvial wetlands in Amazonia
Abstract. In Amazonia, wetlands constitute about 30% of its entire basin, of which ancient fluvial terraces located in vast interfluvial regions cover a large portion. Although the increased number of permanent plots in the recent years has contributed to improved understanding of regional variation in forest dynamics across the Amazon Basin, the functioning of large lowland interfluvial wetlands remain poorly understood. Here we present the first field-based estimate for tree ages, wood biomass productivity and biomass turnover rates for eight 1 ha plots in wetland and non-flooded forests distributed along the BR-319 Highway along a distance of about 600 km crossing the Purus–Madeira rivers interfluvial region in central-southwestern Amazon Basin. We estimate stand age, wood biomass productivity and biomass turnover rates combining tree-ring data and an allometric equation based on diameter, tree height and wood density and relate these structural parameters to physical soil and hydrological restrictions. Wood biomass and productivity varied twofold among the plots, with wood biomass stocks ranging between 138–294 Mg ha−1 and productivity varying between 3.4–6.6 Mg ha−1 yr−1. Soil effective depth, topography, structure and mainly soil water saturation significantly affected stand age (64–103 yr) and forest dynamics in terms of annual biomass turnover rates (2.0–3.2%). On harsher soils characterized by a poor structure, low effective depth and high water saturation, biomass turnover rates were increased and forests stands were younger compared to well-drained sites. We suggest that soil constraints, especially soil water saturation, limit the development of the stand structure, resulting in forests with younger stand ages and higher biomass turnover rates compared to forests growing on well-drained soils. We do not find, however, any relation between physical soil restrictions or hydrology and wood biomass productivity, but there is a trend of increasing wood biomass productivity and phosphorus concentrations at the soil surface. Based on our results we establish hypotheses for different dynamical processes between forests growing on waterlogged and well-drained soils and discuss how these results can be applied in the background of conservation as well as the potential development of forest management plans in this region, which will experience increased deforestation due to the construction of the BR-319 Highway crossing the interfluvial region of the Purus–Madeira rivers.