Soils of Amazonia with particular reference to the RAINFOR sites
Abstract. The tropical forests of the Amazon Basin occur on a wide variety of different soil types reflecting a rich diversity of geologic origins and geomorphic processes. We here review the existing literature about the main soil groups of Amazonia, describing their genesis, geographical patterns and principal chemical, physical and morphologic characteristics. Original data is also presented, with profiles of exchangeable cations, carbon and particle size fraction illustrated for the principal soil types; also emphasizing the high diversity existing within the main soil groups when possible. Maps of geographic distribution of soils occurring under forest vegetation are also introduced, and to contextualize soils into an evolutionary framework, a scheme of soil development is presented having as its basis a chemical weathering index. We identify a continuum of soil evolution in Amazonia with soil properties varying predictably along this pedogenetic gradient.