Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 551–586

Riparian flooded forests of the Orinoco and Amazon basins: a comparative review

  • Judith Rosales Godoy
  • Geoffrey Petts
  • Jukka Salo

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008846531941

Cite this article as:
Godoy, J.R., Petts, G. & Salo, J. Biodiversity and Conservation (1999) 8: 551. doi:10.1023/A:1008846531941


This paper compares the non-deltaic, riparian-flooded forests of the Orinoco and Amazon River basins. Ecological relationships between these forests and their environments that can be useful in establishing schemes for biodiversity conservation are identified. Adaptations of species to flow seasonality, flooding intensity, sedimentation pattern and nutrient depletion are described. The variability and diversity of riparian-flooded forests is related to (i) landscape evolution (regional-scale, long-term), (ii) water quality (basin scale, long-term) and (iii) hydrology and geomorphology (sector-scale, medium-term). The floristic analysis has produced a preliminary list of 242 tree species common to the riparian-flooded forests of both basins. This relatively high number of species is related to connectivity between the riparian corridors of both basins and the effective operation of dispersal mechanisms. Highly oligotrophic environments add uniqueness at the regional scale through the evolution of endemic species presenting adaptations not only to flooding but also to nutrient depletion. The process of genetic diversification and the evolution of genotypes adapted to flooding are suggested to explain longitudinal gradients at tributary junctions and floodplain-upland ecotones where current fluvial dynamics are unpredictable over ecological time scales. The paper presents information that may be used to devise appropriate measures to evaluate sites for riparian biodiversity conservation and management.

Amazon River flooded forests Igapó Orinoco River riparian forests Várzea 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Rosales Godoy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Geoffrey Petts
    • 2
  • Jukka Salo
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones EcológicasUniversidad Nacional Experimental de GuayanaBolivarVenezuela
  2. 2.School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, EdgbastonThe University of BirminghamBirmingham, UK (address for correspondence)
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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