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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Rain forest ecology—Amazon River Region
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Floodplain ecosystem processes

John M. Melack

Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Evlyn M. L. M. Novo

Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São José dos Campos, Brazil

Bruce R. Forsberg

Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil

Maria T. F. Piedade

Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil

Laurence Maurice

LMTG, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

Floodplains represent a major component of the central Amazon Basin and influence the hydrology, ecology, and biogeochemistry. Hess et al. (2003) used a classification of synthetic aperture radar data with 100 m resolution for a 1.77 million km2 quadrat in central Amazonia and identified 17% as wetland most of which was inundated a portion of each year. Total net production attributed to flooded forests (excluding wood increments), aquatic macrophytes, phytoplankton, and periphyton for the 1.77 million km2 quadrat was estimated to be about 300 Tg C a−1. Flooded forests accounted for 62% of the total, aquatic macrophytes accounted for 34%, and the remaining 4% was associated with periphyton and phytoplankton. Approximately 10% of the total is the amount of organic carbon exported annually by the Amazon River according to Richey et al. (1990), methane emission is about 2.5% according to Melack et al. (2004), and a similar percent is estimated to be buried in sediments. The remaining portion is close to being sufficient to fuel the respiration that results in the degassing of 210 ± 60 Tg C a−1 as carbon dioxide from the rivers and floodplains according to Richey et al. (2002). Variations in the distribution and inundation of floodplain habitats play a key role in the ecology and production of many commercially important freshwater fish. A significant relationship exists between maximum inundated area lagged by 5 years and annual yield of omnivores.

Citation: Melack, J. M., E. M. L. M. Novo, B. R. Forsberg, M. T. F. Piedade, and L. Maurice (2009), Floodplain ecosystem processes, in Amazonia and Global Change, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 186, edited by M. Keller et al., pp. 525–541, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2008GM000721.


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