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Effects of isolation on the water status of forest patches in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Valerie Kapos (a1)

Patterns of edge-related environmental changes and plant water relations were investigated in the isolated forest reserves of the INPA-WWF Minimum Critical Size of Eco-systems project near Manaus, Brazil early in the wet season.

Air temperature was elevated and humidity reduced in the understorey within 40 m of the reserve margins, and air temperature and vapour pressure deficit (VPD) were higher in the interiors of 1 ha reserves than in 100 ha reserves. There was increased photosynthetically active radiation penetration to understorey level up to 40 m into a 100 ha reserve.

Soil moisture was depleted in the outer 20 m of both small and large reserves, and surface soil water potentials fell below – 1.5 MPa at the margin of a 1 ha reserve.

Studies of leaf relative water contents (RWCs) in understorey shrubs revealed no appreciable saturation deficits, though RWCs were sometimes lower at the reserve margins. Studies of leaf conductances revealed no evidence of restriction of water loss in these plants, and conductances of plants near the edges were significantly higher and higher for longer.

The implications of these results for reserve design and for local and regional water budgets, as well as the possible role of water stress in increased tree mortality in isolated reserves are discussed.

Padrōes de mudanças ambientais e hídricos de plantas relacionados a bordas de matas isoladas foram investigadas no início da estação seca nas reservas de floresta do Projeto Dinâmica Biológica de Fragmentos Florestais do INPA-WWF, proximo de Manaus, Brasil.

No sub-bosque, até 40 m da borda da mata, a temperatura ambiental estava elevada e a umidade reduzida, e a temperatura do ar e o DPV estavam maiores nas reservas de 1 ha do que nas reservas de 100 ha. A penetração de radiaçao fotosintéticamente ativa no sub-bosque estava aumentada até 40 m da borda em reservas de 100 ha.

A umidade do solo baixou consideravelmente nos 20 m periféricos de reservas grandes a pequenas, e o potencial hídrico na superficie do solo baixou para menos de −1.5 MPa na margem de uma reserva de 1 ha.

Estudos do teor relativo de água (TRA) em folhas de arbustos de sub-bosque nӑo revelaram deficits de saturação apreciaveis apesar de que TRAs foram menores nas bordas das reservas. Estudos da conductancia foliar não revelaram evidência de restrições de perdas hídricas nessas plantas, e as conductancias de plantas próximas a bordas foram significativamente maiores durante um período mais longo.

As impliçõtes desses resultados para o planejamento de reservas e para o balanço hídrico local e regional, assim como as possiveis funçoes de ‘stress’ hídrico na alta mortalidade de árvores em reservas isoladas são discutidas.

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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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