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The floating forest: traditional knowledge and use of matupá vegetation islands by riverine peoples of the central Amazon.

de Freitas CT, Shepard GH, Piedade MT - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: In some cases, crops are planted directly onto matupás, representing an incipient agricultural experiment that was previously undocumented in the Amazon.Matupás are also considered a strategic habitat for fishing, mainly for arapaima (Arapaima gigas).The systematic study of traditional ecological knowledge proved to be an important tool for understanding this little-known Amazonian landscape.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Amazonas, Brasil.

ABSTRACT
Matupás are floating vegetation islands found in floodplain lakes of the central Brazilian Amazon. They form initially from the agglomeration of aquatic vegetation, and through time can accumulate a substrate of organic matter sufficient to grow forest patches of several hectares in area and up to 12 m in height. There is little published information on matupás despite their singular characteristics and importance to local fauna and people. In this study we document the traditional ecological knowledge of riverine populations who live near and interact with matupás. We expected that their knowledge, acquired through long term observations and use in different stages of the matupá life cycle, could help clarify various aspects about the ecology and natural history of these islands that field biologists may not have had the opportunity to observe. Research was carried out in five riverine communities of the Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Brazil). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 45 inhabitants in order to register local understandings of how matupás are formed, biotic/abiotic factors related to their occurrence, the plants and animals that occur on them, their ecological relevance, and local uses. Local people elucidated several little-known aspects about matupá ecology, especially regarding the importance of seasonal dynamics of high/low water for matupás formation and the relevance of these islands for fish populations. Soil from matupás is especially fertile and is frequently gathered for use in vegetable gardens. In some cases, crops are planted directly onto matupás, representing an incipient agricultural experiment that was previously undocumented in the Amazon. Matupás are also considered a strategic habitat for fishing, mainly for arapaima (Arapaima gigas). The systematic study of traditional ecological knowledge proved to be an important tool for understanding this little-known Amazonian landscape.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Pictures of matupás in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Amazonas, Brasil).A—Aerial view of matupás floating on a lake; B—Matupá seen from afar, corresponding to the lowest stratum and lighter in color than the forest in the background; C—Matupá seen up close, representing all vegetation in the image; D—CTF on the matupá surface during field work. Photos: A—Florian Wittmann; B-C—Carolina Freitas; D—Divino Áquila Araújo.
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pone.0122542.g001: Pictures of matupás in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Amazonas, Brasil).A—Aerial view of matupás floating on a lake; B—Matupá seen from afar, corresponding to the lowest stratum and lighter in color than the forest in the background; C—Matupá seen up close, representing all vegetation in the image; D—CTF on the matupá surface during field work. Photos: A—Florian Wittmann; B-C—Carolina Freitas; D—Divino Áquila Araújo.

Mentions: Matupá is a local term in the Brazilian Amazon for free-floating islands of vegetation growing on blocks of soil that can be as much as 3 m thick, in sizes ranging from a few square meters to several hectares, and supporting a variety of plant communities from aquatic herbs to shrubs and trees [1,2] (Fig 1). They are found in várzea lakes distributed along the floodplains of white-water river systems rich in nutrients and sediments [3]. Matupás are formed through a series of natural successional stages beginning with the agglomeration of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, and the consequent accumulation of organic substrate where free-standing herbs, shrubs and even trees can later grow [1,2]. Larger, thicker matupás with substantial vegetation are sturdy enough for people to walk on.


The floating forest: traditional knowledge and use of matupá vegetation islands by riverine peoples of the central Amazon.

de Freitas CT, Shepard GH, Piedade MT - PLoS ONE (2015)

Pictures of matupás in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Amazonas, Brasil).A—Aerial view of matupás floating on a lake; B—Matupá seen from afar, corresponding to the lowest stratum and lighter in color than the forest in the background; C—Matupá seen up close, representing all vegetation in the image; D—CTF on the matupá surface during field work. Photos: A—Florian Wittmann; B-C—Carolina Freitas; D—Divino Áquila Araújo.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4383509&req=5

pone.0122542.g001: Pictures of matupás in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Amazonas, Brasil).A—Aerial view of matupás floating on a lake; B—Matupá seen from afar, corresponding to the lowest stratum and lighter in color than the forest in the background; C—Matupá seen up close, representing all vegetation in the image; D—CTF on the matupá surface during field work. Photos: A—Florian Wittmann; B-C—Carolina Freitas; D—Divino Áquila Araújo.
Mentions: Matupá is a local term in the Brazilian Amazon for free-floating islands of vegetation growing on blocks of soil that can be as much as 3 m thick, in sizes ranging from a few square meters to several hectares, and supporting a variety of plant communities from aquatic herbs to shrubs and trees [1,2] (Fig 1). They are found in várzea lakes distributed along the floodplains of white-water river systems rich in nutrients and sediments [3]. Matupás are formed through a series of natural successional stages beginning with the agglomeration of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, and the consequent accumulation of organic substrate where free-standing herbs, shrubs and even trees can later grow [1,2]. Larger, thicker matupás with substantial vegetation are sturdy enough for people to walk on.

Bottom Line: In some cases, crops are planted directly onto matupás, representing an incipient agricultural experiment that was previously undocumented in the Amazon.Matupás are also considered a strategic habitat for fishing, mainly for arapaima (Arapaima gigas).The systematic study of traditional ecological knowledge proved to be an important tool for understanding this little-known Amazonian landscape.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Amazonas, Brasil.

ABSTRACT
Matupás are floating vegetation islands found in floodplain lakes of the central Brazilian Amazon. They form initially from the agglomeration of aquatic vegetation, and through time can accumulate a substrate of organic matter sufficient to grow forest patches of several hectares in area and up to 12 m in height. There is little published information on matupás despite their singular characteristics and importance to local fauna and people. In this study we document the traditional ecological knowledge of riverine populations who live near and interact with matupás. We expected that their knowledge, acquired through long term observations and use in different stages of the matupá life cycle, could help clarify various aspects about the ecology and natural history of these islands that field biologists may not have had the opportunity to observe. Research was carried out in five riverine communities of the Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve (Brazil). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 45 inhabitants in order to register local understandings of how matupás are formed, biotic/abiotic factors related to their occurrence, the plants and animals that occur on them, their ecological relevance, and local uses. Local people elucidated several little-known aspects about matupá ecology, especially regarding the importance of seasonal dynamics of high/low water for matupás formation and the relevance of these islands for fish populations. Soil from matupás is especially fertile and is frequently gathered for use in vegetable gardens. In some cases, crops are planted directly onto matupás, representing an incipient agricultural experiment that was previously undocumented in the Amazon. Matupás are also considered a strategic habitat for fishing, mainly for arapaima (Arapaima gigas). The systematic study of traditional ecological knowledge proved to be an important tool for understanding this little-known Amazonian landscape.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus