Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Bana, or Low Amazon Caatinga is an evergreen sclerophyllous woodland. It occurs on bleached quartz sands in the lowlands of SW Venezuela, where it occupies relatively small ‘islands’ amidst Tall Amazon Caatinga which is exclusively developed on tropaquods. There is an outer vegetation belt about 20 m in width in which trees over 10 m in height occur (Tall Bana); its structure and floristic composition resemble Tall Amazon Caatinga. Low Bana (maximum tree height usually below 5 m) follows next. The central part is occupied by Open Bana in which even lower trees are very widely spaced. Destructive phytomass sampling was carried out for chemical analyses in seven plots along a 150 m line across the zonation. The total dry matter of living plants including roots of Tall Bana (30–32 kg/m2) compares rather well with 41 kg/m2 in Tall Amazon Caatinga. This is only 9–14 kg/m2 in Low Bana, and 4–6 kg/m2 in Open Bana. The average root % of total phytomass increases from 41% in Tall Bana to 63% in Low Bana, and is 88% in Open Bana. Average total dry dead above-ground phytomass (including standing trees and stumps) declines from 1 kg/m2 in Tall Bana to 0.2 kg/m2 in Open Bana. An accumulation of dead matter in Low and Open Bana, relative to the above-ground phytomass of living plants, is noted and this contrasts with the general absence of raw humus in the soil. Eighty-two species of woody plants (dbh≥1 cm) were recorded on the total plot area (640 m2); 90% of the species are also known to occur in Tall Amazon Caatinga. The species number declines from 59 in Tall Bana to 18 in Open Bana. Mesophylls sensu strictu dominate in Tall Bana, while notophylls are dominant in Low and Open Bana. Herbaceous species are less numerous: most of them belong to the Araceae, Bromeliaceae, Orchidaceae, Droseraceae, Eriocaulaceae and Xyridaceae.
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