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Classification of the forests of the northern Paraguayan Chaco

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The forests of the northern Paraguayan Chaco are described and classified using phytosociological methods and numerical analysis. Forest types are based on the close relation between the different floristic combinations detected and the variations in soil, bioclimate and biogeography of the northern Paraguayan Chaco. Seven main groups are recognized: 1) Forests on sandy soils of the Médanos; 2) Xerophytic forests on well-to fairly well-drained soils of the old alluvial plains; 3) Forests on poorly-drained soils of the north-western Chaco; 4) Chaco to Chiquitanía transitional forests; 5) Forests of the eastern Chaco of the Alto Río Paraguay; 6) Chiquitanía to Chaco transitional forests and shrublands; 7) Hygrophytic and floodable forests. On a more detailed level 26 forest types are identified, with the different types of Quebracho forest being the most common in the territory. From a biogeographical viewpoint the Chacoan forests are the most extensive while the Chiquitanian forests are restricted to the far north-east of the northern Paraguayan Chaco. Within the Chacoan forests in turn two large transitional groups can be seen: towards the Chiquitanía (the Cerrado) and towards the Pantanal. From an ecological viewpoint, the processes related with the degree of drainage of the soils and the possibility of flooding are the main factors in the floristic and structural characterization and distribution of the Chacoan forests.
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Keywords: CLASSIFICATION; DRY CHACO; FLOODABLE LANDS; PARAGUAYAN FORESTS; PHYTOSOCIOLOGY; SOIL DRAINAGE FACTOR

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • Phytocoenologia (ISSN 0340-269X) is an international, peer-reviewed journal of plant community ecology. It is devoted to vegetation survey and classification at any organizational and spatial scale and without restriction to certain methodological approaches. The journal publishes original papers that develop new vegetation typologies as well as applied studies that use such typologies, for example, in vegetation mapping, ecosystem modelling, nature conservation, land use management or monitoring. Particularly encouraged are methodological studies that design and compare tools for vegetation classification and mapping, such as algorithms, databases and nomenclatural principles. Papers dealing with conceptual and theoretical bases of vegetation survey and classification are also welcome. While large-scale studies are preferred, regional studies will be considered when filling important knowledge gaps or presenting new methods.

    Phytocoenologia was founded by Reinhold Tüxen in 1973 and is published in collaboration with the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS; www.iavs.org). The journal closely cooperates with various subgroups of IAVS and serves as publication outlet for their workshops as well as for selected sessions of the IAVS Symposia. It contains special sections on “Phytosociological Nomenclature” and “Ecoinformatics”. Guest-edited Special Features that fall within the scope of the journal are also published.

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