Amazonian floodplain forests are characterized by an annual flood pulse with changes of the water table that exceed 10 meters. Seedlings and adult trees are waterlogged or submerged for continuous periods lasting up to seven months per year. The monomodal flood pulse of the rivers causes drastic changes in the bioavailability of nutrients, oxygen levels, and concentrations of phytotoxins. The aquatic phase occurs during a period in which temperature and light conditions are optimal for plant growth and development, implying the need for adaptations. Not only do trees persist in a dormant state, they grow vigorously during most of the year, including the aquatic period. The regularity of flooding may have enhanced the evolution of specific traits, which partially are well known from floodplain trees in other tropical and in temperate regions. Different kinds of adaptations are found at the level of structural, physiological, and phenological traits. Combinations of adaptations regarding seed germination, seedling development, and traits of roots, shoots, and leaves result in a variety of growth strategies among trees. These lead to specific species distributions and zonations along the flooding gradient and within Amazonian floodplain systems (nutrient-rich white-water várzea and nutrient-poor black-water igapó).
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