Dissecting Amazonian Biodiversity

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Science  07 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5220, pp. 63-66
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5220.63


Biogeographical and biodiversity studies in Iowland Amazonian rain forests typically refer to observed or postulated distribution barriers such as past unfavorable climates, mountains, rivers, and river floodplains that divide the uniform tierra firme (noninundated) forest. Present-day ecological heterogeneity within tierra firme has hardly been discussed in this context, although edaphic differences are known to affect species distribution patterns in both inundated areas and tierra firme. Quantification of landscape heterogeneity in Peruvian Iowland Amazonia (500,000 kilometers squared), based on field studies and satellite image analysis, shows that Peruvian Amazonia is considerably more heterogeneous than previously reported. These observations have implications for the research, management, and conservation of Amazonian biodiversity.