Marcelo T. Nascimento
Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UNITED KINGDOM.
A forest type dominated by Peltogyne gracilipes Ducke (Caesalpiniaceae) occurs on Maraca Island on a range of soil types. Maraca is located in Roraima State (Brazil) in the Rio Uraricoera and has an area of about 100,000 ha. This study compares the structure and floristic composition of the Peltogyne forest with the most widespread lowland forest type on Maraca and investigates some factors that could be involved in the persistent monodominance of Peltogyne. Three 0.25 ha plots were set up in each of three forest types: Peltogyne-rich forest (PRF), Peltogyne-poor forest (PPF) and forest without Peltogyne (FWP). Within each plot all trees (~ 10 cm dbh) were recorded. Seedlings and saplings were sampled in sub-plots of 2 m x 1 m (seedlings) and 4 m x 4 m (saplings). In the PPF and FWP, Sapotaceae were the most important family with the highest dominance and relative density values. Caesalpiniaceae showed high values in the PRF and PPF. Licania kunthiana, Pradosia surinamensis and Simarouba amara occurred in the forest types. Peltogyne dominated had 20% of stems and 53% of the trees ~ 10 cm dbh, and 91% of the canopy layer the canopy in total basal stems and 97% in all the the PRF and area of all of the total basal area of individuals > 50 cm dbh. In PPF, Lecythis corrugata and Tetragastris panamensis were the most abundant species, followed by Peltogyne. In the FWP the most abundant trees (~ 10 cm dbh) were L. kunthiana and P. surinamensis. In general, Peltogyne had low rates of seed predation and herbivory, but suffered locally high levels of damage to its seeds by leaf-cutter ants and was once observed to have an infestation of larvae of the moth Eulepidotis phrygionia on its young leaves. Peltogyne had no allelopathic effects on tested species and had VA mycorrhizal associations. Its occurrence remains unexplained but is most clearly correlated with soil magnesium.