Yennie Bredin, PhD student
Floodplain forests are extremely important for Amazonian biodiversity, harbouring plant and animal communities distinct from unflooded forest. Yet, floodplains concentrate most human (urban and rural) populations in Amazonia and are highly threatened due to direct anthropogenic influences, such as selective logging, agricultural activities and hydropower development. In addition, these forests are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change as reflected by recent extreme water-level fluctuations.
Our understanding of floodplain forest ecology has in recent years improved in tandem with an increase in new publications on the subject. However, a large void in our existing knowledge is the role of Amazonian floodplain forest in the global carbon budget, and how future changes in the hydrological regime of vast catchments due to climate change or development may affect the dynamics of floodplain forests (e.g. in terms of structure and composition) and their carbon balance. Such changes may be significant, since previous studies have shown that the main driver of floristic composition in floodplain forest is the inundation period.
In my PhD project, I therefore aim to increase our understanding of the role of Amazonian floodplain forest in the global carbon budget, by compiling data on carbon stocks and examining how flooding affects the carbon balance in floodplain forests compared to unflooded forests.