Featured Article


, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 623-640

First online:

A Classification of Major Naturally-Occurring Amazonian Lowland Wetlands

  • Wolfgang J. JunkAffiliated withUniversidade do Estado do Amazonas (UEA) Email author 
  • , Maria Teresa Fernandez PiedadeAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)
  • , Jochen SchöngartAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Chemistry, Biogeochemistry Department
  • , Mario Cohn-HaftAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)
  • , J. Marion AdeneyAffiliated withNicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
  • , Florian WittmannAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Chemistry, Biogeochemistry Department

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Our estimates indicate that about 30% of the seven million square kilometers that make up the Amazon basin comply with international criteria for wetland definition. Most countries sharing the Amazon basin have signed the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance but still lack complete wetland inventories, classification systems, and management plans. Amazonian wetlands vary considerably with respect to hydrology, water and soil fertility, vegetation cover, diversity of plant and animal species, and primary and secondary productivity. They also play important roles in the hydrology and biogeochemical cycles of the basin. Here, we propose a classification system for large Amazonian wetland types based on climatic, hydrological, hydrochemical, and botanical parameters. The classification scheme divides natural wetlands into one group with rather stable water levels and another with oscillating water levels. These groups are subdivided into 14 major wetland types. The types are characterized and their distributions and extents are mapped.


Amazon basin Higher vegetation Hydrology Water types