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Impact of fires on an open bamboo forest in years of extreme drought in southwestern Amazonia

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da Silva, SS; Numata, I; Fearnside, PM; Gra�a, PMLD; Ferreira, EJL; dos Santos, EA; de Lima, PRF; Dias, MSD; de Lima, RC; de Melo, AWF

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2020

REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

20

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In Brazil's state of Acre, in southwestern Amazonia, wildfires mediated by extreme droughts in 2005 and 2010 affected more than 500,000 ha of forest, causing changes in their structure, species diversity, and aboveground biomass (AGB), and the expansion of bamboo. Our objective was to analyze these changes in an open bamboo forest in Acre after forest fires occurred either in one of the extreme drought years (2005 or 2010) or in both years (2005 + 2010). We sampled 9.75 ha (in 2016 and 2017), distributed in 18 0.5 ha (100 m x 50 m) plots and three 0.25-ha (50 m x 50 m) plots. We identified a strong fire effect on the number of tree individuals per hectare, which declined by 50% if the forest was burned in only one year (2005 or 2010) and by 74% if burned in both years. This was inversely related to the expansion of bamboo stems, which increased in number by 7 to 9 times. Changes in forest structure and species composition after the fire were characterized by a high importance value for pioneer tree species; reductions in the number of trees with logging potential, in the basal area of trees, and in the number of lianas; and an increase in the density of bamboo stems. AGB in the burned forests was 51-73% that of the unburned forest. With the expansion of bamboo, its contribution to AGB increased from 1% in the unburned forest to 27% in the twice-burned forest. These forms of degradation represent serious threats to Amazon forests.

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