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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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doi:10.5194/esd-2017-19
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Mar 2017
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
River logjams cause frequent large-scale forest die-off events in Southwestern Amazonia
Umberto Lombardo CaSEs Complexity and Socio-Ecological Dynamics Research Group – Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract. This paper investigates the dynamics of logjam-induced floods and alluvium deposition in the Bolivian Amazon and the effects these have on forest disturbance/recovery cycles. It expands on previous work by Gullison et al (1996) who reported a case of catastrophic floods triggered by logjams in the Chimane Forest on the Bolivian Amazon. No further studies have followed up on this observation and no research has been published on the effects of large wood in tropical lowland rivers. The study is based on the analysis of a time series of Landsat imagery (1984–2016) and field evidence. Results show that logjam-induced floods are a major driver of forest disturbance along the Andean piedmont in the Bolivian Amazon. Logjams form on an almost yearly basis and migrate upriver until an avulsion takes place. Logjam-induced floods are here characterized by a sudden deposition of a thick sand layer and the death of forest in a V-shaped area. The Bolivian Amazon offers a unique opportunity to further research on how large wood affects river behavior in lowland tropical settings and how large and frequent forest disturbance events resulting from river logjams affect forest biodiversity and community successions.

Citation: Lombardo, U.: River logjams cause frequent large-scale forest die-off events in Southwestern Amazonia, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., doi:10.5194/esd-2017-19, in review, 2017.
Umberto Lombardo
Umberto Lombardo
Umberto Lombardo

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Short summary
In lowland Bolivia, satellite images show rivers collapsing and the replacement of forest with savannah. This was first described in 1996 as being the result of logjams (river dams created by fallen trees). I have investigated how the logjams form and affect the forest through remote sensing and field work. Logjams occur nearly every year and migrate upriver until the river changes course. This region offers a unique opportunity to study how frequent forest die-off events affect biodiversity.
In lowland Bolivia, satellite images show rivers collapsing and the replacement of forest with...
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