, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1189-1202
Date: 02 Nov 2012

Wetland Habitat Diversity in the Amazonian Piedmont of Colombia

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Management of wetlands is often constrained by lack of a precise typology of habitats. Regional landscape attributes need to be considered in the integrative research of wetlands to allow habitat-specific management. Here we investigated the distribution and the habitat diversity of the wetlands in the Amazonian Piedmont in the Caquetá Department of Colombia. Based on the landscape approach we combined geomorphic, hydro-chemical and biotic attributes. We used remote sensing based interpretation and ground truth verification. We found 896 wetlands covering up to 11 % of the study area. Our estimate of the wetland area does not reflect the true historic wetland area (occasionally flooded area) because 76.9 % of the flooded active floodplain area has been converted to pastures. Including the pastures the estimated wetland area is 29.3 % of the study region. We identified 7 wetland habitats. The method we applied can be used to map small and middle sized wetlands achieving an acceptable overall accuracy. These wetlands provide important ecosystem services and act as corridors for biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes such as the Caquetá region. Our results provide support for the wise use of tropical wetlands and may help to improve landscape management in the Amazon basin.