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The Tambopata region of the southern Peruvian Amazon supports a high diversity of both woody plants and forest types. Woods collected from low riverside vegetation, floodplain forest, clay-soil forest on an upper terrace, sandy-soil forest, and swamp forest provide an opportunity to test for significant differences in quantitative anatomical characters among forest types. Vessel-element length in floodplain-forest trees is significantly greater than in the other forest types. Specific gravity is lower in the two early-successional associations (low riverine forest and mature floodplain forest). Vessel diameter and density do not show significant differences among forest types and may be responding to overall climate controls. These two characters, however, show a pattern of variation within a transect extending back from the river along a gradient of increasing substrate and forest age; in addition, sites characterized by frequent flooding or presence of standing water lack vessels in the wider-diameter classes. The six characters analyzed show distributions that are, with the exception of wood specific gravity, significantly nonnormally distributed, a consideration that may be important in representing characteristics of assemblages of taxa. The degree of variability seen in some of the quantitative characters shows the importance of either basing analysis on adequate sample sizes or identifying robust indicators that can be used with small samples.


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