Bamboo-Dominated Forests of the Amazon


Bronson Griscom: Forestry & Environmental Studies

Advisor: Mark Ashton


This CEO project will be the first step in a larger project analyzing the distribution of bamboo-dominated forest patches in the Tambopata river watershed of southeastern Peru. These bamboo (genus Guadua) present one of the rare cases where canopy species of an Amazonian forest are recognizable in Landsat images (Nelson 1994). Bamboo dominated forests have been estimated to cover 185,000 km2 from an analysis of 15 Landsat TM scenes in southwestern Amazonia (Nelson 1994).

These bamboo-dominated forests present an ecological enigma and a challenge to forest managers. The distribution of this forest type does not appear to follow clear topo-edaphic patterns, nor is there evidence that large-scale natural disturbances occur in this remote region. Where tree-dominated forests adjacent to bamboo stands have been disturbed by humans, Guadua does appear to rapidly invade and arrest succession.

This research is part of a dissertation project to study the factors that control the distribution of bamboo-dominated forests, and the mechanisms by which Guadua is arresting forest succession. This research is expected to demonstrate a large exception to the apparent tight link between floristic patterns, soil properties, and Landsat TM spectral signatures bands 3 (0.63 to 0.69 µm); 4 (0.76 to 0.90 µm0; and 5 (1.55 to 1.75 µm) in the lowland rainforests of Peru (Tuomisto,  Ruokolainen et al. 1995) (Ruokolainen,  Vasquez et al. 1995).

The geometrically corrected/georeferenced images generated by this project will be used to identify bamboo-dominated patches with the use of a GPS unit in the field. In the fall of 2001, the images will be used to study the spectral signature of bamboo-dominated patches, and changes through time in the distribution of these patches, as well the occurrence of monocarpic flowering/die-off events.

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8 May 2000