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Distribution, density, and diversity of lianas of Manu National Park

Robyn J. Burnham
Museum of Paleontology and Department of Biology University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079
Email:rburnham@umich.edu

Species of lianas (woody climbers) constitute about 20% of the woody species of neotropical lowland tropical forests. How many do you know on sight? If you can't think of the name of even one, you aren't alone. Lianas contribute in substantive ways to the diet of many forest animals, they enlarge tree-falls and compete with trees in regenerating sites. Lianas may be good indicators of the trajectory that damaged forests will take, early on in the regeneration cycle. My research in Manu is coupled to ongoing research in Yasuni National Park in Ecuador where I have identified the dominant lianas of the floodplain and terra firme communities. I have measured and identified lianas in 4 one-hectare plots in Manu (three near Cocha Cashu and one at Pakitsa). The dominant lianas are not yet clear in Manu because a different species "rules" in every plot I have censused. I hope to continue these censuses in undisturbed forests in Manu and then apply the "undisturbed" results to a comparison with regenerating forests (natural and human-disturbed) throughout Manu.