Floristic composition, structure and soil-vegetation relations in the three white-sand soil patches in central Amazonia

ABSTRACT The Amazonian white-sand vegetation presents a set of unique features, such as the dominance of a few species, high endemism and low species richness, which differentiate it from other Amazonian forests. Soil parameters have long been recognized as the main drivers of white-sand vegetation (WSV) characteristics. However, how they influence the composition, richness and structure of this vegetation type is still poorly understood. In this study we investigated the variation in floristic composition between patches and the soil-vegetation relations in three central Amazonian WSV patches. We tested whether slight differences in soil properties are linked with differences in floristic composition, species richness and forest structure in adjacent patches. In each patch three plots of 50 x 50 m were sampled (a total of 2.25 ha). Soil samples were collected for each plot. The sampling cutoff for arboreal individuals was DBH ≥ 5 cm. We sampled a total of 3956 individuals belonging to 40 families and 140 species. In each patch only a few species were dominant, but the dominant species varied among patches. Differences among patches were significant, but plots in the same patch tended to have similar species composition. The variable sum of bases (SB) was directly related to species composition, however, species richness and forest structure were not related to soil parameters. Even small variations in soil parameters can change species composition in WSV, although these variations do not necessarily influence the richness and other structural parameters.