Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 231–238

A general review of tropical South American floodplains

  • Wolfgang J. Junk
  • Karin Furch

DOI: 10.1007/BF00188157

Cite this article as:
Junk, W.J. & Furch, K. Wetlands Ecol Manage (1993) 2: 231. doi:10.1007/BF00188157


High rainfall and its seasonal distribution cause periodic flooding of large areas in tropical South America. Floods result from lateral overflow of streams and rivers, or from sheet-flooding by rains as a consequence of poor drainage. Depending upon the size of the catchment area, flooding can occur with one peak (e.g., in the Amazon River and its large affluents) or in many peaks (e.g., in streams and small rivers).

Vegetation cover of floodplains varies from different types of savannas and aquatic macrophyte communities to forests depending upon the hydrologic regime and local rainfall. Large differences exist in primary and secondary production due to large differences in nutrient levels in water and soils.

An attempt is made to characterize the floodplains according to their hydrologic regimes, vegetation cover and nutrient status. The areal extent of different types of floodplains is estimated. The human impact is also evaluated.


Amazon Basin floodplains tropical wetlands wetland disturbance 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang J. Junk
    • 1
  • Karin Furch
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für Limnologie, Arbeitsgruppe TropenökologiePlönGermany

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