Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 117–129 | Cite as

Characteristics of natural salt licks located in the Colombian Amazon foothills

  • Eduardo Molina
  • Tomás Enrique León
  • Dolors ArmenterasEmail author
Original Paper


Salt licks are key places for the ecological dynamics of wildlife communities around the world and are locations where animals develop geophagical behaviours. Geophagy is a method for animals to supplement their diets or facilitate their digestive processes and is related to the health of individuals and populations. This study characterises a series of salt licks located in the Colombian Amazon foothills and describes their structural, mineralogical and physicochemical properties, as well as the fauna that visit these locations. The results are analysed in reference to the geological characteristics of the study area and in relation to the role of the salt lick in the nutritional ecology of the Amazonian fauna. Located in the study area are two types of salt licks that are significantly different in composition. These salt licks are located in an area where young geological materials have been exposed. The characteristics of the salt licks supports the hypothesis that they are used to solve nutritional problems that result from herbivorous diets. The clear importance of salt licks in the ecology of several Amazonian animal species emphasises the need to prioritise conservation areas by maximising the complementarities of salt lick sites.


Salt licks Geophagy Nutritional ecology Wildlife management Amazonia 



We acknowledge the San Miguel community, the Tandachiridu Inganokuna Indigenous Association and, particularly, Albaro Mutumbajoy and Angel Mavisoy, who worked actively on this project. We thank Claudia Patricia Romero and Hernán Serrano for their help with GIS issues, Jaime Andrés Cabrera for his comments regarding salt lick ecology and Dr. Javier Retana for comments regarding data presentation. We also thank the following institutions that were involved in the development of this project: the Research Office of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (DIB), the Instituto de Estudios Ambientales (IDEA) of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, the Amazon Conservation Team Colombia (ACT Colombia) and the Idea Wild Foundation. Finally, we thank the Vicerrectoría de Investigación at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia for providing the English grammar revision of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo Molina
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tomás Enrique León
    • 1
  • Dolors Armenteras
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Estudios Ambientales (IDEA)Universidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología del Paisaje y Modelación de Ecosistemas-ECOLMOD, Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia

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