Central Amazonian rainforest landscape supports a mosaic of tall terra firme rainforest and ecotone campinarana, riparian and campina forests, reflecting topography-induced variations in soil, nutrient and drainage conditions. Spatial and temporal variations in litter decomposition, soil and groundwater chemistry and soil CO2 respiration were studied in forests on sandy soils, whereas drought sensitivity of poorly-drained valley soils was investigated in an artificial drainage experiment. Slightly changes in litter decomposition or water chemistry were observed as a consequence of artificial drainage. Riparian plots did experience higher litter decomposition rates than campina forest. In response to a permanent lowering of the groundwater level from 0.1 m to 0.3 m depth in the drainage plot, topsoil carbon and nitrogen contents decreased substantially. Soil CO2 respiration decreased from 3.7±0.6 μmol m-2 s-1 before drainage to 2.5±0.2 and 0.8±0.1 μmol m-2 s-1 eight and 11 months after drainage, respectively. Soil respiration in the control plot remained constant at 3.7±0.6 μmol m-2 s-1. The above suggests that more frequent droughts may affect topsoil carbon and nitrogen content and soil respiration rates in the riparian ecosystem, and may induce a transition to less diverse campinarana or short-statured campina forest that covers areas with strongly-leached sandy soil.