Regional-Scale drivers of forest structure and function in northwestern Amazonia

Mark A. Higgins, Gregory P. Asner, Christopher B. Anderson, Roberta E. Martin, David E. Knapp, Raul Tupayachi, Eneas Perez, Nydia Elespuru, Alfonso Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Field studies in Amazonia have found a relationship at continental scales between soil fertility and broad trends in forest structure and function. Little is known at regional scales, however, about how discrete patterns in forest structure or functional attributes map onto underlying edaphic or geological patterns. We collected airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and VSWIR (Visible to Shortwave Infrared) imaging spectroscopy measurements over 600 km2 of northwestern Amazonian lowland forests. We also established 83 inventories of plant species composition and soil properties, distributed between two widespread geological formations. Using these data, we mapped forest structure and canopy reflectance, and compared them to patterns in plant species composition, soils, and underlying geology. We found that variations in soils and species composition explained up to 70% of variation in canopy height, and corresponded to profound changes in forest vertical profiles. We further found that soils and plant species composition explained more than 90% of the variation in canopy reflectance as measured by imaging spectroscopy, indicating edaphic and compositional control of canopy chemical properties. We last found that soils explained between 30% and 70% of the variation in gap frequency in these forests, depending on the height threshold used to define gaps. Our findings indicate that a relatively small number of edaphic and compositional variables, corresponding to underlying geology, may be responsible for variations in canopy structure and chemistry over large expanses of Amazonian forest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0119887
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 20 2015
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Amazonia
Soil
Soils
Geology
canopy
species diversity
geology
Chemical analysis
reflectance
spectroscopy
soil
Spectrum Analysis
image analysis
Spectroscopy
lidar
Infrared imaging
lowland forests
forest canopy
Chemical properties
Fertility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Higgins, M. A., Asner, G. P., Anderson, C. B., Martin, R. E., Knapp, D. E., Tupayachi, R., ... Alonso, A. (2015). Regional-Scale drivers of forest structure and function in northwestern Amazonia. PloS one, 10(3), [e0119887]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119887

Regional-Scale drivers of forest structure and function in northwestern Amazonia. / Higgins, Mark A.; Asner, Gregory P.; Anderson, Christopher B.; Martin, Roberta E.; Knapp, David E.; Tupayachi, Raul; Perez, Eneas; Elespuru, Nydia; Alonso, Alfonso.

In: PloS one, Vol. 10, No. 3, e0119887, 20.03.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Higgins, MA, Asner, GP, Anderson, CB, Martin, RE, Knapp, DE, Tupayachi, R, Perez, E, Elespuru, N & Alonso, A 2015, 'Regional-Scale drivers of forest structure and function in northwestern Amazonia', PloS one, vol. 10, no. 3, e0119887. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119887
Higgins, Mark A. ; Asner, Gregory P. ; Anderson, Christopher B. ; Martin, Roberta E. ; Knapp, David E. ; Tupayachi, Raul ; Perez, Eneas ; Elespuru, Nydia ; Alonso, Alfonso. / Regional-Scale drivers of forest structure and function in northwestern Amazonia. In: PloS one. 2015 ; Vol. 10, No. 3.
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